Changing boundaries and meanings of middle class houses in Sri Lanka

Paranagamage, Primali (2013) Changing boundaries and meanings of middle class houses in Sri Lanka. Journal of the International Society for the Study of Vernacular Settlements, 2 (4). pp. 1-21. ISSN 2320-2661

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Change and continuity beyond the visual: Middle class suburbs of Sri Lanka

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Houses are distinctively organised spatial networks that embody social norms and meaning of a given culture. Normally it is accepted that visually identifiable house ‘types’ which also closely fit the culture of a group are adopted by society. In Sri Lanka, there was popular house ‘types’ among the middle class until about 1980. Today, house forms of the middle class are diverse with apparent new trends in recent years. If contemporary middle class house forms are not visually characterized by type/s, how does ‘culture’ influence house form? This paper explores whether there are ‘types’ with distinctive spatial networks among the diverse house forms and the nature of embodied social norms. In the context of apparent change, such exploration advances the understanding of the association of house form and culture for the contemporary society of Sri Lanka.

By using space syntax analysis, this paper argues that although eclectic in visual appearance, middle class houses share a cultural ‘gene’ in their spatial configuration as a ‘genotype’ that operate beneath the visual. Analysis of forty houses revealed that an older genotype named as the O model is diminishing and that a new genotype named as the M model had stabilised after 1980. The contemporary ‘genotype’ classifies space to accommodate meanings of a new everyday home life. The older genotype which classified space to accommodate meaning of a by-gone lifestyle is no longer popular. The negotiation between the new genotype and heterogeneous phenotypes allow for the affirming of class solidarities in new ways in contemporary Sri Lanka

Keywords:middle class, Sri Lanka, house, home, genotype, space syntax, phenotype, House and home
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K110 Architectural Design Theory
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K450 Housing
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
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ID Code:9699
Deposited On:03 Jun 2013 13:35

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