New community hall aimed at helping rebuild Tsunami hit areas completes in Thalalla
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies invited architects to design and build a new community centre in the village of Thalalla Mathra, Sri Lanka as part of their tsunami rehabilitation and livelihood support program.
The community centre was built in a Buddhist temple’s land as a token of gratitude to the Chief Monk of the temple who helped the tsunami-affected village by providing food, accommodation and sanitary facilities during the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami. It was decided to raise the building above ground in the ancient Buddhist temple building tradition of ‘tam pita viharas’ (building on pillars) so that it would still be accessible during a possible future floods. The Raised Floor is a suspended concrete slab laid on reinforced concrete columns.
Due to scarcity of vacant temple land the architects had to come up with a design proposal where a future expansion was possible for a one-storey building to be acceptable. The proposed future expansion will allow timber mezzanines to be added after completion of the initial build.
The design of the cathedral-like double-height volume in the community centre is due to this planned future expansion, as it leaves ample space for later work. Due to budget constraints the walls were left as exposed brickwork, and the concrete columns and beams were left as raw concrete to increase the textured tactile quality of the community centre. The roof was also left as the exposed clay tile both externally and internally.
To contrast the otherwise somber surroundings, splashes of colour were introduced by way of cheerfully coloured doors to the interior of the building. All windows were designed with timber frames and the vertically pivoting windows were inspired by the nearby Thangalle Bay Hotel.
Facilities in the community centre include a reading room, library, male and female toilets and a common hall for meetings. It serves as a Buddhist religious school on Sundays and in addition, as a hall of prayer on the Buddhist religious holidays of the full moon (Poya). With the multipurpose functionality of the community centre it is expected to serve a wider variety of public needs in various ways to help in this region of Tsunami-hit Southern Sri Lanka.