Building — and Protecting — Houses in Sri Lanka

Terrance Brown and Kathrin Moore listen to frustrations about the rebuilding process. i i

hide captionTerrance Brown and colleague Kathrin Moore listen to frustrations from a neighboring villager whose rebuilding project is not yet under way.

David T. Downey, AIA
Terrance Brown and Kathrin Moore listen to frustrations about the rebuilding process.

Terrance Brown and colleague Kathrin Moore listen to frustrations from a neighboring villager whose rebuilding project is not yet under way.

David T. Downey, AIA
A tent next to a damaged beach home provides rudimentary shelter. i i

hide captionA tent on the floor slab of a damaged house provides rudimentary shelter while a Sri Lanka family awaits repair efforts that the government may or may not support.

David T. Downey, AIA
A tent next to a damaged beach home provides rudimentary shelter.

A tent on the floor slab of a damaged house provides rudimentary shelter while a Sri Lanka family awaits repair efforts that the government may or may not support.

David T. Downey, AIA
Brown and colleagues discuss rebuilding efforts with local fishermen in front of a wooden shelter. i i

hide captionBrown and colleagues learn more about the plight of local fishermen. Behind them is a wooden shack built as a temporary shelter.

David T. Downey, AIA
Brown and colleagues discuss rebuilding efforts with local fishermen in front of a wooden shelter.

Brown and colleagues learn more about the plight of local fishermen. Behind them is a wooden shack built as a temporary shelter.

David T. Downey, AIA

The tsunami that struck coastal communities on the Indian Ocean last December displaced more than 500,000 people in Sri Lanka alone. Many survivors are still without permanent homes.

Architect Terrance Brown of the American Institute of Architects recently returned from a survey of the country's damaged coastline. His trip was part of an effort by American architects, engineers, planners and landscape designers who are advising the Sri Lankans on how to re-build.

Brown says that damage from the tsunami's high, fast-moving waters was particularly severe in some areas because Sri Lanka's natural defenses — like sand berms and dunes — had been altered, leaving them weakened. Noting that the berms were sometimes removed entirely, Brown says part of his group's advice centers on helping ensure that coastal residents would not be as vulnerable if a similar disaster returns.

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