At 00.59 GMT on 26 December 2004, a magnitude 9.3 earthquake ripped apart the seafloor off the cost of northwest Sumatra. Over 100 years of accumulated stress was released in the second biggest earthquake in recorded history.
It unleashed a devastating tsunami that travelled thousands of kilometres across the Indian Ocean, taking the lives of more than 200,000 people in countries as far apart as Indonesia, The Maldives, Sri Lanka and Somalia. This year we focused on the development of the studio’s work in Sri Lanka. Rebuilding and reoccupation of these areas required careful determination of potential hazard zones to avoid future loss of life and property. At the same time the new sociopolitical configurations generated as an immediate consequence of the local death toll called for a reinterpretation of the traditional pattern of spatial inhabitation, both at the macro and micro scale. The new ground configuration – partly artificially generated by new policies which are responding to the pressure and perceived need to develop tourism – enforced the regional dislocation of underprivileged communities, in the process causing serious concern for their economic future and drastically changing the local human urbanism. We sought to seize the opportunity which presented itself: that of engaging foreign capital while negotiating the needs of the local population to improve their conditions in what ought to become a sustainable regenerative process.