BY ESHANA RAJA RATNAM
The annual 5th year overseas trip is an event that is looked forward to and anticipated by all students. This year after much discussion and debate it was decided that we would be going to China, a prime opportunity to be exposed to a country with a history spanning over 5000 years and currently leading the world into the future. We were accompanied by our year persons (tamara & samanthika] and the excitement was real from leaving bandaranaike international airport. Our journey took us to Shanghai and Beijing, China's most well known cities. To say it was a novel experience would be putting it lightly. As we arrived in Shanghai we took a river cruise along the [river] and Shanghai's famous bund district. Every conceivable method of lighting has been used except the billboards happened to be towering skyscrapers of all shapes and sizes. Our time in Shanghai was a lovely beginning to the trip where we explored the city's ancient water towns, markets and the nearby town of Suzhou where IM Pei's world renowned museum is located.
Our next stop was Beijing with the journey being faster than we could have ever imagined [literally] with Us travelling on the high speed bullet train which goes at 300km/h! (In local terms you could reach Jaffna in one hour). Beijing was truly a magnificent experience where we took part in a guided tour of the forbidden city, the wildly modern 798 art zone, the Beijing Olympic village and of course a trip to the great wall of China. Our four guides in both shanghai and Beijing were two very informed lovely people who gave us a new perspective of the places we were visiting and their history.
Ten days later we landed in Colombo - tired but satisfied. The journey was indeed a memorable one; and we hope that students of CSA continue to get this opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures and landscapes – which is indeed a necessary source of nourishment to a young Architect's soul.
The Studio 5 batch trip is a milestone many of us can only dream of when in the 1st year at CSA; for in the way stand numerous crits, exams and the formidable CDP (so glad we're passed all that). Last year, the students of Year 5 were taken to Singapore and Malaysia. Accompanied by the Head of School, Prof. Lal Balasuriya and his wife, Archt. Shiranee Balasuriya; first up was Singapore, with its clean and green urban cityscape. A full day workshop at NUS, including interesting lectures and informal student discussions, was an enlightening experience. Not to mention, it marked our first face-to-face encounter with a 3D printer! (fingers crossed that CSA will get one soon). The Urban Redevelopment Authority, ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay were some of the places we visited. They say that certain places, people or instances in life can never be forgotten. Despite being just a passing entity amidst a plethora of experiences, they leave an indelible mark on our memory. Our tour guide in Malaysia is one such person – with his quirky accent and downright epic commentary, he kept us entertained for an entire week! (PS : ask Eddie Senior for an authentic impression). A tight schedule in place, we visited Melaka, Penang, Putrajaya (Malaysia's fancy new administrative city), KL Tower and of course the Petronas Towers – thank you to CSA for taking us right to the top! A day spent at Sunway Lagoon was the perfect ending to this adventure. Two countries and bags of shopping later (shout-out to the dear Tady at KL airport check-in for conveniently overlooking some overweight luggage), we landed in Colombo – tired but satisfied. The journey was indeed a memorable one; and we hope that students of CSA continue to get this opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures and landscapes – which is indeed a necessary source of nourishment to a young Architect's soul.
A busy year of planning and preparation towards a memorable trip to Spain culminated in 10 ecstatic days of adventure, unveiling its culture, lifestyle, art and architecture seamlessly radiating its vibrancy even during early winter.
It started in Madrid, the capital city of Spain where the old and the new harmoniously complemented each other. The new city is filled with works of star architects of the modern world, while the old stands majestically with works of master builders. The city also houses Pablo Picasso's Guernica in its Reina Sofia Museum. Moving on to Cordoba in the southern Spanish province of Andalucía is a city that survived many invasions, and its architecture testifies its evolution. Mesquita de Cordoba is the greatest statement of all times still standing high with its Roman and Moorish influences that stand out distinctively side by side. Further south lies Granada, a medieval treasure land of architecture dating to the Moorish occupation of Spain, where we were able to witness Alhambra from the neighborhoods and its own articulated courtyards. Our next stop transported us from yesteryear to tomorrow land in a few hours; Valencia, a perfect harmony between old and new. The city's vision of being the city of arts and sciences have given birth to a sculptural architectural form that still entertains and reflects the bubbly social lifestyle of the old city. Our last stop was the coastal city of Barcelona, a wonderland created by Antonio Gaudi; with works like Park Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Baltio and his most celebrated unfinished work, Sagrada Familia, a cathedral of timeless beauty, a soaring structure and a staggering feat of architecture that leaves you utterly breathless by its sheer originality.
Spain may have left us speechless, but it inspired the story teller within.