Two thousand Four (2004) boxing day tsunami was the worst natural disaster to hit Sri Lanka in living memory. For a country already reeling from a two and a half year old war the timing of the tsunami could not have been worse. East and South coast of Sri Lanka was totally devastated with 40,000 human causalities in addition to the colossal damage caused to the road network, bridges, harbors , schools etc.
Surviving students of the school were temporarily housed in makeshift tent shelters built by GOAL Ireland Irish INGO along the banks (where future playground of the school was proposed) of 'Karachchi Thona' lagoon while reconstruction of the school was carried out inland in close proximity to the lagoon. In the Eastern ampara district of Sri Lanka, minority Tamil and Muslim community lived in almost equal percentage to the Sinhalese majority community. Due to above mentuioned multi ethnic multi religious nature of the area it was a hot bed of violance in the centre of the storm of the ethnic war ravaging at the time between the forces of the government of Sri Lanka and the liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels. Out of the twenty four (24) districts of sri lanka Ampara was one of the most backward, poverty stricken, down troddeen district of Sri Lanka compared with other districts. Most of the students of the school came to school 'barefoot' due to the poverty effecting their parents and the society in general, suffering from the long standing war and the occasional natural disasters to strike them like cyclones, floods and in this case tsunami. Free education was one of the 'teels' used to 'empower' these underpriviledged sections of the society in Sri Lanka.
As the land allocated to reconstruct the school was a reclaimed stretch of land along the 'Karachchi thona' lagoon, a thorough soil investigation was carried out as an initial step to identify the bearing capacity of the soli. The resultant soil investigation recommended a method of 'soil improvement' by digging deep and filling with coarse sand to improve the bearing capacity of the column footing foundations.
Orientation of the building was done with openings placed along north –South axis with larger openings on lagoon side and smaller openings on rear road side giving a more solid appearance to the rear elevation and more open appearance to the lagoon elevation. Minimal openings were placed on east- West axis. As the triple height corridor verandah was located on lagoon side the school children enjoy high level of thermal comfort due to high cross ventilation through the building.
Description: Reclaiming lagoon using tsunami debris to re-built a school.
Design: Contemporary Architecture
Consultants: Chinthaka Wickramage Associates
Building status: in use
Construction period: October 2006 to June 2007
Location: Maligakadu, Sri Lanka
Coordinates: 7°13'28.1'' N, 81°51'21.5'' E
Tags: education, disaster, repurpose, community practice
Project ID: 308
Published: 27 November 2012
Last updated: 14 February 2013
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