Sri Lanka German Training Institute, A Beacon of Hope, Arisen from a Troubled Past, by Chinthaka Wickramage Associates

Architecture
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Project Credits:
Project  Name: Sri Lanka German Training Institute (SLGTI)
Location: Araviyalnagar, Kilinochchi
Project Financing Agency: KFW (German Development Cooperation) Bank
Clients: Ministry of Skills Development & Vocational Training
Consultants: Chinthaka Wickramage Associates
Project Managers: PEM Consult GmbH
Architects: Chinthaka Wickramage, Nileeka Senerath
Project Manager: Peter Lengowski
Project Director: Lukas Sitsen
Chief Site Engineers: Tobias Strobel & Jens Winkler
Assistant Architect: Thusahara Sampath Ajith Kumara
Structural Engineer: Keerthi Rathnayake
Quantity Surveyor: Sunanda Gnanasiri
Building Services Engineer: Nimal Perera
Electrical Engineer: Thilak Thamiliyagoda
Assistant Site Engineer: Vilvarajah Suthaharan
Architectural Assistants: Manoj Nandana, Milan Madushanka, Anushka Iththapana, Nimhani Weerasekara, Asiri Susith Hewage
Photography: Waruna Gomis
Base Text By: Dhushyanthy Jayawardena 

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The site of the project is located near Iranamadu, which is approximately six kilometres to the south of the town of Kilinochchi. The history of Sri Lanka has undergone a tumultuous past, with a lengthy and trying civil war. This site itself, was a former terrorist stronghold prominent in that era, and had seen extensive destruction as a result of the war. Physical ravages were accompanied by social shortcomings, and there remained an impending need of rehabilitating the people from this region, especially the youth, deprived of opportunities, and sufferers of hardship. When the reconstruction effort was initiated in the North, it was observed that there was a gaping lack of skilled labour. Therefore, skilled as well as semi-skilled labourers hailing from the South were employed, therefore effecting an unfortunate loss of opportunity for economic benefit. Therefore, SLGTI was founded for as an initial point for rejuvenation in the region, by the collaboration of the KFW German Development Corporation Bank and the Government of Sri Lanka. It would also serve as a sister institute to the established and successful Ceylon German Training Centre in the South of the Island, with its curriculum ensuring National Vocational Qualification (NQV) Levels 4-6, in six areas of specialisation, for its students.

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The total area of this complex is about 10000 square meters. Its layout is composed along the lines of a central axis with two storey blocks on either end of this axis. These structures comprise of the administrative buildings, along with the auditorium, and the canteen building. A sky-bridge connects these two buildings, and the entrance to the complex lies beneath it, achieving the sense of welcome desired tied up with a utility based aspect. The plan of the structures, according to function, that is the Administrative Zone, the Vocational Training Areas and the Residential Zone, have been starkly segregated. It allows for a systematic and accessible arrangement, and allows uninterrupted proceedings with regard to classes, lectures and other activities.

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The administrative building has been rendered differently from the other structures in the complex, as it marks the point of entry, and holds a sense of prominence. Its exterior façade has been plastered, and finished with a cement handled wall finish. At the other end, the canteen is designed as a structure defined solely by its columns and butterfly roofs, thereby ensuring free movement through and within it.

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Prior to the execution of the project, the site consisted of a generally dry, seasonal canal, which has been dredged as well as landscaped to a pond, which defines the entrance area of the complex, with soil sourced from the site, for construction of its embankment. The bridge has low height walls, which adds not only to the aesthetic beauty but also acts as an invitation for the students to be seated there, for respite and relaxation. The central space has been designed as a turfed courtyard, dotted with trees, embodying an oasis in the arid climate, enhancing the complex, and providing a recreational space for students. The structures housing the remaining classrooms and workshops are single storey in height, their profile defined by butterfly roofs, in resonance with the flat lay of the land, with the hues of the structures blending compatibly with the landscape.

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The design principles governing this project ideate the necessity of understanding and executing successful tropical architecture, accompanied with cost effective measures and ensuring of easy maintenance. It can be observed throughout the design, that cross ventilation as well as natural light, due to their merit of being climate appropriate and energy efficient have been given due prominence. While the built mass comprises of long horizontal forms, they have been arranged in a layout which resembles the letter ‘U’, with the classrooms on one side, and the workshops on another, with open space in between, the means of traversing being an interconnected, covered corridor. The open space not only facilitated cross ventilation, but also ensures a buffer for the noise generated from the workshops. The layout mimics a real-life setup for the students, creating a lobby space, where the clients’ requirements can be discussed, and the workshop area, where the requirements would be then fabricated.

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The architectural elements employed in the design, such as the deep eaves, the sweeping sandwich panel roofs, and usage of building materials such as clay bricks, concrete grills and cement floors exemplify careful thought and consideration to the implications and beneficial result of good practice of architectural design. For instance, one million ‘wire cut’ bricks have been used for this project, and they have been sourced from the regions ‘Dankotuwa’ and ‘Batticaloa’, an action which has resulted in supporting their dormant industry. Implementing the principle of ‘Stack’ effect, the concrete grills have been employed at the upper ends of the walls, for the release of risen hot air, ensuring a constant natural flow of air, within areas under enclosure. Since the region receives constant sunshine, throughout the year, the designers have also introduced photo voltaic solar panels, which generates half of the energy consumed by the institute.

 

 

– Devashree Vyas, Volume Zero

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