The Institute of Urban Designers recently hosted Sri Lanka’s first-ever National Urban Design Forum. Established in June 2020, the Institute is a professional body that looks into urban development in detail, thereby transforming cities by enhancing their aesthetics and adding architectural quality, character and sense of place.
In his keynote speech, Prof. Ali Madanipour, Professor of Urban Design, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University, UK, spoke about models that could be used to develop cities and the future. He spoke about challenges when it comes to urbanization and how the psychology of environments and emotions need to be considered when creating urban spaces. He shed light on how industrialization, public transport and other aspects have transformed cities while drawing examples from various urban design concepts. “Innovation is a key driver of development and diversity and social inclusion should be facilitated when creating urban spaces,” he added.
The event also included a prize giving for students who participated in the ‘Our Dream City’ competition. Students doing the Master of Urban Design degree at the University of Moratuwa, also launched an online exhibition of their artworks
Speaking at the forum, Dr. Janaka Wijesundara, President of the Institute of Urban Design said that all elements of the environment are incorporated when transforming a city. “We need to pay more attention to sense of place, belongingness and happiness. The Institute is interested in promoting specific collaboration with other professionals including the public and private sector. Urban design is a multidisciplinary approach where designers need to work together with other professionals. During the past year we have been conducting many forums with international expertise. We have built a good relationship with those institutions and they are keen on developing a Regional Council of Urban Designers. Here we aim to get the latest expertise and knowledge on urban design.” said Dr.Wijesundara.
A winner of the ‘Our Dream City’ competition receiving an award from Dr. Godahewa
Pics by Kithsiri De Mel
The event also included a prize giving for students who participated in the ‘Our Dream City’ competition. Apart from that students doing the Master of Urban Design degree at the University of Moratuwa, also launched an online exhibition of their artworks. The degree is open to architects, urban planners, valuation experts and those involved in related disciplines.
In his comments State Minister of Urban Development, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said that the Institute of Urban Design would soon by termed as the Sri Lanka Institute of Urban Design once enacted in Parliament. “There are many professionals, engineers, architects and town planners working towards the betterment of the cities and we are constantly evolving to serve better. But something we have noticed is the gap between town planners and architects and the need for urban design. In time to come that too will be incorporated. This subject is being taught for the last 20 years or so,” said Dr.Godahewa.
He further said that social disparity is evident in many developed cities and that people have been separated. “Therefore urban designers should look at bringing them together. These disparities seem to be growing. Our younger generation is leaving the country, saying that there’s no future here. But once they go there they don’t have much recognition. Today, they are contemplating on coming back. The recognition you have here won’t be present elsewhere. This is your motherland and in this country you have recognition. Therefore we need to dissolve social disparity and bring people together with urban design concepts,” he added.