Category Archives: Ashley de Vos

Urban Planning: the future – special reference to Sri Lanka by Ashley de Vos – Part 2

“The new still follows the old traditions creating a holistic entity. The result is the achievement of a functional and harmonious architecture suited to the life of the Yemeni people. However, when alien techniques and materials are introduced, there are several effects. With imported materials, a large proportion of the cost goes into the pockets of a few contractors, with only about 25% remaining in the district. If local communities are to participate in self-help for construction, money must be spent locally, on local materials and labour. In addition, imported building methods usually prove to be unsuited to the climate, because the walls and roofs are not heavy enough.”
– Derick Matthews



The Traditional Architecture of Yemen – Yemeni people have inherited building skills since ancient times, and construction seems to be in their life-blood. The county’s architectural history is strongly tied both to its traditions and locally available construction materials Continue reading Urban Planning: the future – special reference to Sri Lanka by Ashley de Vos – Part 2


Urban Planning: the future – special reference to Sri Lanka by Ashley de Vos

Urban Planning: the future
special reference to Sri Lanka
Ashley de Vos

Part One

Jane Jacobs in her book “Dark Ages Ahead” talks about the end of culture, especially the way we live it today. Picture books do not protect the loss of a culture. The printed media is incapable of passing down a culture. It has to be experienced, it has to be lived. Hence the importance of vibrant communities to carry the culture forward.

We have forgotten that cities were created for people and not for the motor vehicle. Today we have completely forgotten the reason why cities exist and are changing our cities to fit the vehicle. The vehicle was never scaled to the requirement of the city. If they were, they would have been very small and highly efficient. Public transport not cars is the solution, for efficient movement of people, the tram, the bus and now rapid transport systems are rising to the real needs of the city. Foot walks should be people friendly and especially in the tropics well shaded to avoid them becoming heat soaks.

The gentrification of our cities, is a sure indication that society is on the decline. It leaves many people, especially the communities, the preservers and the repositories of the cultural matrix helpless and disorientated.
Jeff Rubin in the “End of Growth” argues that ‘the present concept of world growth is dictated by the price of oil and with the increased cost of exploitation and inherent increases in cost, development as we know it would grind to a halt. The growth cycle is receding and the world is in recession. This will effect everything we do’. Of course, unless we continue to wage wars, killing thousands of innocents, to get our hands on cheap sources of oil.

Population growth is the result of the economic expansion in the past decades and the only sustainable solution today is in the lowering of this demand for energy. A study done in the Netherlands about ten years ago concluded that a minimum 80% drop in the standard of living was required to bring all in line with the best in the developing world. Even though the environment and economy is inextricably connected and should be treated as such, the sociopolitical landscape sees it differently. In “Everything under the sun” David Suzuki refers to ‘geo-engineering as the height of our arrogance, we are using hydrocarbons to produce carbohydrates’. Is the human species well on its way to extinction ?, at this rate yes.

The high rise building is an expression conceived during the era of cheap oil, and is still seen by some as the solution for all our ills. In some countries they are demolishing their tall building as they are designated as sick buildings, as failures. While in others the herd instinct prevails. Is this new expressive gimmick driven trend evidence of the end of a culture or a revelation that no culture ever existed. Continue reading Urban Planning: the future – special reference to Sri Lanka by Ashley de Vos