Conflict and Natural Disasters
Building a school in tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka

We are just establishing a charity fund to help construction of new schools in tsunami stricken Sri Lanka. The area is Batticaloa (East Sri Lanka) for sure, most probably the Kalkudah district.

We are working on a project for a modern, culture and tradition-friendly school to be built at a completely new location (it will replace a destroyed school to close to the ocean and thus needs to be relocated).

I seek for any kind of guidance, experience, contacts with regard to all "specifics" Sri Lanka schools have. Construction technology, materials, number of students per class (it should be 35), plan and orientation, all related regulations (fire escapes, electricity, toilets, principl's office - anything) etc.

The administration is quite large in Sri Lanka with overlapping competencies and thus only people at the highest posts can give the appropriate answers. Also, most of the relevant regulations and laws are in Sinhalese. If anybody could provide any kind of info, leads or contacts I would be rally grateful for that. Thank you,
Vit Novak
Building a school in tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka
Hello Vit,

It's nice to hear that you'll rebuild the school in this hurry...

About orientation: the classrooms must be oriented toward the north. If they are towards the east,west, or south, you must make cantilevers (vertical or horizontal or both) depending on the plan. The windows must be on the left side of the classroom.

The dimensions of the classroom: 8.2 by 6.4 meters (clear). The height not less the 3.25 meters (clear).

The area of the windows = 20% area of the classroom. Leave 60-80 cm beside the board to put a closet.

The windows should be 1 meter high from the floor on the exterior. And the height of the window itself should be 1.5 meters, divided between an upper part(50 cm)(stationery) and a lower part (1 m), which is operable.

The width of the door should be 1.2 meters, consisting of 2 parts: (stationery). 3m and the moving part (.9m). The door could be from steel, if the classes single band, if not it could be from wood.

Other areas:

- The principal's office: 15 sq. meters
- Offices of the secretary or vice: 12 sq. meters
- Social worker office: 12 sq. meters
- First aid: 10 sq.m., it contains a sink and a bed.
- Kitchen + private W.C.= 15 sq.meters
- Teacher's room: It depends on the school area (or 2 classrooom area)
- Stores: 20-40 sq. meters
- Cantine 12-20 sq.meters
- 1 W.C. per 40 students. On the ground floor only, and don't repeat it in the other floors.
- Number of sinks: .5 X WCs
- The slope of the ramps (for the handicapped): 1:12 (12m horizontal=1m vertical).

I can show you a school that I designed to build it if you in need as a gift from the Palestinian people to tsunami victims.
Ibrahim Karsou
Building a school in tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka
Dear Ibrahim,
thank u very much for the info. It really helped - for example I wasn't aware of a cabinet in each class. I would very much appreciate if we could share more info, preferably via email. My email is

It will be great if you show me your project - the school you designed. As u mentioned it's a gift for tsunami victims what is the proposed location (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India)? In case it's designed for Sri Lanka (I assume from your reply) it will be 'tremendously' helpful for me where and how did you get the regulations and other specifications for designing and building a school in Sri Lanka.

I'm looking forward seeing your design and hearing from u soon.

Best regards,

Vit Novak
Building a school in tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka

It will be important to have a design that takes into account Sri Lanka's tropical climate. Please look at the work of Geoffrey Bawa, which can be found on ArchNet. The Architectural Association in London used to have a unit for tropical design, though I doubt that it still exists.

There is a UNESCO chair for Tropical Architecture at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. I believe the chair is occupied by Richard Michael Aynsley. He can probably help guide you.

Here is a list of others who specialise in this field.
Shiraz Allibhai


This site is adjusted only for landscape mode. Please rotate your device for properly using
We are sorry, we are still working on adjusting for Metro IE. Please use another browser for the best experience with our site.