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Monday, 23 January 2012

India to construct Cultural Centre in Jaffna

The Indian government is undertaking a project to construct a Cultural Centre in Jaffna at Rs 900 million. This is as part of its development partnership with Sri Lanka and in response to a request by the Sri Lankan government. It is decided to develop the Jaffna Cultural Centre as an iconic building that would serve as a cynosure of cultural activities in the north to preserve and foster the rich cultural heritage of Jaffna district and nearby areas.

The centre is also intended to create opportunities for cooperation among all Sri Lankans. The Jaffna Cultural Centre's primary purpose is to provide a cultural and social space for the people of Jaffna to enjoy local and international cultural products, apart from serving as a delivery centre for training, instructions and education in a variety of cultural disciplines.

The centre will comprise a theatre-style auditorium (with projection facilities) with a capacity of about 600 people, a multi- media library with on-line research facilities, exhibition and gallery space and a museum.

It will also have an instructional wing, which would have facilities to conduct classes in vocal and instrumental music, dance and languages, including a language lab. It will also be able to serve as a hub for civil society activities for which purpose, it would include a conference hall-cum-seminar room.

It was jointly decided by both governments to conduct a national design competition to select the best design for the Jaffna Cultural Centre that would take these requirements into account. Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa presented awards to the top three architects whose entries were selected by a jury after the completion of the National Design Competition for the Jaffna Cultural Centre at a ceremony.

The awards included US $ 3,500 for the first prize, US $ 3,000 for the second prize and US $ 2,500 for the third prize. The Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) was entrusted with the task of conducting the National Design Competition in two separate rounds.

A seven-member jury, co-chaired by Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha and SLIA president Ranjan Nadesapalli, one architect each from SLIA and India, one representative each from the governments of India and Sri Lanka, and the Jaffna Mayor evaluated the entries. The entries were evaluated by the jury without the architects' knowledge through a process of assigning code numbers to each entry.

During the first round of the design competition, 29 designs were received, out of which the jury shortlisted eight designs for the second round of competition.

The evaluation of these eight entries was based on a number of carefully identified criteria such as the technical acceptability, context plan, aesthetic / architectural language, space efficiency, buildabillity and environmentally friendly, sustainable architecture.

The jury selected the following as the best three designs: Rank 1: The design submitted by Architect Madura Premathileka, Rank 2: the design submitted by Cynthia and Athula Ranasinghe Chartered Architects Rank 3: The design submitted by Design Consortium (Pvt) Ltd.

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