The Centre is a three-building complex at the heart of the Yodakandyia housing reconstruction scheme, in a new village outside the town of Tissamaharama in south-eastern Sri Lanka that was developed for 218 families affected by the 2004 tsunami. In addition to the community centre, there is a pre-school, library, medical centre, and a cricket pitch and volleyball court. The Centre was designed by Architecture for Humanity, a volunteer, non-profit design and construction services organisation, in close collaboration with the community and with technical assistance from UN-Habitat. The programme engaged the beneficiaries directly: the residents not only acted as client, they also prepared a design brief, implemented the construction and continue to operate the facilities. The available budget and the hot climate drove low-cost construction techniques, with the extensive use of local materials and passive cooling measures. Bricks were hand-made using natural clay earth, fired in open-air furnaces of burning left-over rice husks, and a number of redundant buildings on site were recycled into rubble for the foundations. To address the problem of a lack of access to drinking water—one of the main challenges facing the community—the project also includes a rainwater harvesting system with two large underground tanks that store sufficient rainwater to provide for basic needs throughout the dry season.
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