AN ARK IN LIMBO.
Slave Island like the rest of Colombo, is in the midst of a major transformation, as the Urban Development Authority which oversees the property and land sector of Sri Lanka is moving away from its pro-poor land security policies and towards more commercial, economic goals. In recent years, there has been much redevelopment of its Prime Land, previously containing slums that house 65% of its population, into commercial hubs, hotels, malls, etc... all the physical manifestation of the surge in Commercial investment in Sri Lanka once the war ended. The ark in Slave Island is separate from all this redevelopment and eviction as it infringes on public infrastucture, that is a railway; it is very much connected to the rest of Slave Island- to its main street Malay Road and the new commercial buildings that surround it. It consists of 2 market decks which contain shophouses and also Market Streets; these areas are a remnant of the informal housing sector's land policies. In between the 2 decks is an underground Tinker's Market, an area whose territory and ownership is free for all and always in flux. The ark persists in permanence, unlike the original Biblical Narrative it is based on. Its residents and visitors are but small figures in comparison to the large, giant carveouts of the ground that the ark is situated within; a wonderland in limbo.
A summary of my research into Wonderland and how it manifested as a limbo within Noah's Ark, A Biblical Narrative which is the main reference and provided the general design principles in my project.
The site is situated within Slave Island, an area within Colombo which was used to house African Slaves imported by the various Colonial rulers. Its location was very strategic as it was right next to Colombo's fort, and was also surrounded by Beira Lake. Today, Slave Island is a very Multireligious and multiracial area, with different types of places of worship, a heritage site that is its victorian style railway station, and 65 % of its demographic living in slum settlements and working within the Slave Island Locale selling localised goods or in localised skill based jobs.
The Ark is separate from the redevelopments ongoing in Colombo and Slave Island, but it is very much connected to the rest of Slave Island, and to the commercial developments situated right next to it.
Red indicates slum areas that have already been evicted, Orange indicates slum areas that are projected for/ at risk of eviction in near future. In the centre of drawing is a railway settlement, the site of my project; its location is an exempted from redevelopment and thus eviction due to its infringement on public transport infrastructure, which formal buildings cannot.
a consistent design language exists within all the elements throughout the ark, governed by the original Noah's Ark Narrative, elements are very wide and much taller than normal human dimensions.
cross section showing connection between 2 shophouse market decks and tinker underground market in between them. this cut is indicated in domestic market street by dotted yellow line. Netting and Sails in Market decks provide suitable storage, shelter and display infrastructure for buskers.
Like the Original Biblical Narrative, Market Residents are picked from various slums based on the good they sell/ occupational skill they have, and are designated shophouses that they can reside in with their families. The land tenure policies within the ark are independent from the rest of Colombo, a remnant of the land security policies which existed in the informal housing sector before.