Past Program

Sri Lanka: Northern Visions

This travel course will explore the rich architectural, landscape and artisan traditions of the island nation of Sri Lanka. Located just 22 miles across the Palk Strait from the southeastern coast of India, the island has a long and rich history of settlement dating back to at least the 6th C BCE.

At-A-Glance

What
Wintersession Travel Course
Where
  • Colombo, Sri Lanka
When
Winter 2016

Course Dates: Jan 6, 2016 — Feb 8, 2016

Who
Open to RISD students, Brown University students
Faculty
Academic Credits
6
Department
  • Landscape Architecture
Course Numbers
  • LDAR 2342
Cost
$571

Includes accommodation, field trips, local transportation, all meals, museum entrances, health and travel insurance.

Full Course Description

This travel course will explore the rich architectural, landscape and artisan traditions of the island nation of Sri Lanka. Located just 22 miles across the Palk Strait from the southeastern coast of India, the island has a long and rich history of settlement dating back to at least the 6th C BCE. People from West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Portugal, the Netherlands and England have arrived, conquered and stayed, leaving an elaborate tapestry of artistic traditions, religions and customs. We will visit the Buddhist stupas and lakes of Anuradhapura, ancient capital of the Kingdom of Sri Lanka, dating to the late 4th C BCE, and the Buddhist temples of Kandy, last capital of independent Sri Lanka founded in the 14th C and nestled in the central highlands. There we will explore the 19th-early 20th C hillside homes and verdant tea plantations of the British colonizers and the ancient stone rainwater harvesting tanks and cascading irrigation systems. We will visit the Portuguese Fort and Dutch city of Galle on the southern coast and study works of the great Sri Lankan modern architect Geoffrey Bawa and his disciples in the capital Colombo and across the southern parts of the island. En route we will visit village textile cooperatives and artisan cottage industries to see how these traditions are being kept alive and how they are part of larger strategies aimed at social and economic empowerment. The goal of the course is to create an annotated visual documentation of ancient through contemporary architectural, landscape and artisan practices in Sri Lanka. These will include siting strategies, material and structural Wintersession – Course Descriptions 2015 - 2016 314 studies, climate control and resource management systems, spatial layouts and use patterns, and artisan processes. The entire Wintersession period will be spent in Sri Lanka with regular work sessions for compilation of data and observations built into the trip. Note: This course is part of a multi-year RISD involvement with Sri Lanka through DESINE-Lab@RISD. The larger effort focuses on the northern region of the island and the reconstruction and refugee resettlement process following the country's three-decade civil war. While the material produced in the course is a critical component of the larger effort and there will be DESINE-Lab members running workshops in conflict-impacted areas in the weeks prior to Wintersession, this travel course will NOT be going to the north of the country.

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