Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Degree Level





Greg Herman

Committee Member/Reader

Frank Jacobus

Committee Member/Second Reader

Phoebe Lickwar


On December 26, 2004, an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale caused one of the most catastrophic disasters in recent history: the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Also called the Boxing Day Tsunami, this event devastated communities along the coast of the Indian Ocean killing around 230,000 people and displacing around 1.7 million. One of the worst affected countries was Sri Lanka which suffered the greatest loss in relative terms. In Sri Lanka 36,000 people were killed and about 500,000 were displaced by the tsunami with five percent of the population being directly affected. The initial relief activities were relatively successful given the circumstances. However, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the island country proved to be much more difficult: complaints arose about the longevity of the reconstruction process; concerns surfaced about the inequality of building construction and funds distribution; rising construction cost worsened the situation as did the on-going conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Eelam (LTTE). With the recent completion of housing projects and the victory of the GoSL over the LTTE, it now seems appropriate to reevaluate the rebuilding of communities in Sri Lanka. This project attempts to understand the cultural, political, and economic complexities that are involved in rebuilding the broken communities in Kurukkalamadam and Kirinda, Sri Lanka. In Eastern Sri Lanka, the Smart Shelter Foundation worked on houses for Hindu families in Kurukkalmadam. Shigeru Ban’s housing project in Kirinda is an example of one approach for post-tsunami housing in a Muslim fishing village in Southern Sri Lanka. These two case studies exemplify the inequality of distribution between the provinces of Sri Lanka and also reveal the problems inherent in disaster reconstruction. The most prevalent of these issues is that design flaws emerge from cultural misunderstandings between the donor and recipient. Therefore, a new conception of design must emerge in which the problem of rebuilding after a disaster is approached as a partnership between these two entities.


tsunami, environmental design, housing reconstruction, natural disasters