Strategies to Develop Tamil
Areas: New direction for our development! By A.
Chandrahasan Architect, Sydney
have to find a new direction to lead our country to a peaceful,
prosperous and democratic future. War has given us an opportunity to
rethink, reassess and change our traditional values and attitudes.
While proudly following the footsteps of our forefathers, we as a
generation need to develop a strong unified foundation . This
article will aim to explore concept and strategies for a new urban
and rural built environment, with particular reference to town of
Jaffna, to fit within the context of a new political and social
order that people of the north and east desire to create. The
current post-war climate has given way to an exciting new
opportunity to rebuild and re-develop these towns to meet new social
and political needs. We need clearly defined planning policies and
instruments to successfully direct and control future developments.
Cities and towns that we have now in third world nations were
planned and developed by colonial powers to meet their political and
military need. These towns were not designed to meet the social and
cultural needs of the people.
Unlike western countries, towns in third world
countries after independence ended up being merely a commercial
centre without any social and cultural elements. There was no
conscious attempt made to democratise or socialise the planning
concept. In contrary, haphazard developments were made without a
clear vision of urban planning for a democratic society.
Our towns have been developed during the colonial time with the
clear demarcation of Administrative zone, Civic zone with
recreational area, Commercial zone, Religious and Cultural zone and
Educational zone. Very little developments have been taken place in
these towns after independence. Most of the large towns in Sri Lanka
have a long and rich pre-colonial history. For example, Jaffna had
been developed as a town around Nallur prior to Portuguese arrival.
It was built around temples with plenty of small water tanks (Kulam)
interconnected with impressive water supply and drainage systems
with segregated residential quarters based on caste and profession.
The traditional planning principals of Jaffna town can still be
traced from the remaining temples and water courses. A thorough
historical study of the planning of these towns during pre and post
colonial period need to be carried out. This study will help to
identify the town’s potential new design having in mind the town’s
traditional values and elements that should be preserved. We also
need to understand the overriding aesthetic concept of planning and
architecture that give our unique style.
Globalisation verses Regional identity
Most of the cities in third world counties that have very little to
preserve as heritage are losing their little identities by massive
reconstructions carried out mostly by multinational companies in
recent times. Most of the new works in these countries are designed
to meet global standards with no respect to local culture, social
values and the history. The traditional relationship between people
and their built environment is rapidly changing to a mono global
culture that is conducive for multinational company’s investment
Cities and towns in third world countries are rapidly losing their
identities in the name of development and globalisation while
developed countries are consciously preserving their historical
towns with stringent controls on developments.
Tamils in north and east have fought for last three decades and
sacrificed their lives, wealth and future for their identity in the
nation. Their struggle was not merely for development but for their
identity in every sense. While our development will undoubtedly
reach global standard , it has to respect the history, culture and
geographical aspects of the people and land.
Planning concept and vision of our future cities
People of the north and east, want to develop their region as an
integral part of Sri Lanka to meet global standard. We want to
rebuild our towns symbolising harmony between tradition and
modernity. This is the commitment our generation will make for the
generations of tomorrow.
A thorough study of the history is needed to identify existing
planning criteria and heritage items that need to be preserved or
developed. The analysis of the history and the present context will
lead to identify the desired built form to achieve the vision of the
Local planning strategy: Strategic planning
ensures the City:
Plans for future growth. Maintains its environmental, heritage and
cultural values. Identifies issues facing townships including
community aspirations and needs. Articulates the preferred future
directions for townships. Identifies appropriate planning controls
to protect and enhance townships. A Local Planning Strategy is the
key strategic urban planning document for the future growth and
development of a city for the next 10-15 years.
The intent of the Local Planning Strategy is to provide long-term
vision for sustainable planning that integrates diverse issues such
Economy and Employment Centres and Corridors Housing Transport
Environment and Resources Parks and Public Places Governance and
Implementation The community’s input to the community forums will
contribute to the Local Planning Strategy and maintain the dialogue
between the Authorities and its community. This partnership is the
critical factor for the effective integration of community
The immediate task ahead of us today is to stop any haphazard
developments that will spring out of the urge for quick development
after peace. Until a well worked out planning policy and Local
Planning Strategy is formulated, temporary control mechanisms should
be in place based on the vision and the planning concept.
Architectural symbolism Town Hall and Municipality buildings are the
symbol of governance of the region. It is expected for the designer
to understand the concept and basic principle of the Dravidian .The
municipality building, as the most visible icon in the town, should
strongly express the presence of Tamil Culture in the multi-cultural
landscape of Sri Lanka . Even though our towns have not developed an
identifiable architectural style of its own, it has a unique social
and cultural history that separates it from the rest of the country.
These unique social and cultural values determine the desired
architectural design .