Student Project | Urban Catalyst | M.D.B. Perera

Canal bank landscape revival for marginal communities at Dehiwala

Unplanned Rapid Urbanization is a major issue. Continued immigration to urban areas creates low-income informal settlements in the boundaries and the infill spaces of cities with Social, Ecological and Architectural issues. Dehiwala canal, the border of greater Colombo city boundary have a similar situation. The government have a proposal to resettle these community.

Sri Lanka has many experiences with failed resettlement projects than succeeded once. Project formulation happened to give a landscape solution for smart resettlement of the Dehiwala canal community and as a pilot project for other resettlement projects in the future.

Existing Conditions

In the design approach, the existing polluted canal is a barrier in-between the general public and marginal community to get contacted. Landscapes have the power to bring people together and or to separate them. Changing the main element in the area will prepare the community for the resettlement program by physically and mentally while connecting them to the general public.

Users can experience the canal either by walking or by using boats. The design applies as  Functional layer, Economical layer and Ecological layer and Design spaces consist of Mini Ports, walkways, outdoor dining areas, Viewing points, Seasonally convertible spaces, Waiting /Gathering spaces, Food preparation areas, Product making/Exhibition areas and outdoor performance areas.

Food preparation areas and dining areas will create a trend in a space that already has the potential to emphasize the outdoor dining trend in the Colombo area. The landscape that functions as a product making space and outdoor exhibition space provides an opportunity to motivate the zero waste life cycle in Sri Lanka.

The Master Plan focuses on the urban canal system and creating a different attitude, impression within people about the different approaches to use the canal for different functions rather than using it as a typical sewage line and furthermore the design create a positive attitude about the urban water transportation.

With the concept of communities for co-living, this design is expected to function as a common ground for the marginal community and the general public, in a way that they interact with each other by using common appreciations such as food, nature, recreation while protecting urban diversity

Urban Catalyst – Canal bank landscape revival for marginal communities at Dehiwala, Sri Lanka

Student: M.D.B. Perera, Faculty of Architecture, University of Moratuwa , Sri Lanka

About Damian Holmes 3266 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at