Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Colombo urban reconnaissance tour

Colombo is a metropolis of extremes as we witnessed yesterday on our exciting bus tour. Our guide, KD, is a very funny and charismatic former lecturer from the University of Moratuwa. KD's sense of humour kept us engaged and responsive. As an example, he mentioned that if I had tipped the snake charmer we came across anymore money that he would have expected me to marry him! His knowledge of local history and urban futures gave us a deeper understanding of urban development issues. These issues mainly came down to limited available land and funding, increased pressure on infrastructure as a result of urban migration, environmental issues, and also heritage preservation.

KD Fernando from the University of Moratuwa leading the urban reconnaissance tour of Colombo
The historical elements of Colombo are not dissimilar to that of Bendigo or Melbourne as they have each experienced early British influence as suggested by the prevalence the old Victorian-styled buildings. There has been notable effort placed into restoring a good portion of these buildings, however, there many that have been let go. Important institutions such as the government and various business sectors are held in strong regard as demonstrated by the grandeur of their accompanying uni
buildings. In Colombo, contemporary architecture is about making a statement, and this is achieved
by sheer size or dramatic design. The new buildings such  as the 'lotus-shaped' National Theatre are a way of branding the 'new' Colombo to the world around them; ushering themselves into the global market.

Colonial architecture on Galle Road

Regarding infrastructure pressures, the roads are constantly buzzing with activity. I am very thankful
for our competent bus driver as it feels at times we are almost a breath away from oncoming traffic. Despite the constant beeping and congestion I would consider the road network surprisingly
functional for motorised transport, however, less so for tourists attempting to cross the street. All in all, Colombo is a city with a big vision for the future, addressing the above planning concerns will position them well in the ever-evolving Asian centred market.

- Kristina Murray, Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning
Fourth Year

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