The Government of India will be constructing a Cultural Centre at Jaffna. A Memorandum of Understanding for implementation of the project was signed by the High Commissioner of India Mr. Y.K. Sinha and the Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development, Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka. The MoU was signed in the presence of Hon’ble Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Government of Sri Lanka. The Cultural Centre is to be built in the next 36 months, on a plot of land adjacent to the Jaffna Public Library, made available by the Jaffna Municipal Council. The Centre and the adjoining water body - the Pullukulam will be transformed into an integrated cultural space that can also accommodate open-air performances with the help of a floating stage.
The purpose of the Jaffna Cultural Centre, which is being built at an estimated cost of SLR 1.2 billion, is to provide suitable social infrastructure for the people of the Northern Province, especially for the people of Jaffna, to help them to reconnect with their cultural roots as well as to the rest of the country and to rejuvenate and nurture the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna. The Centre will enable the people of Jaffna to enjoy various local and international cultural products. It would also serve as a delivery centre for training, instruction and education in a variety of cultural disciplines. The Centre is being developed as an iconic building that will emerge as a cultural forum that embodies coexistence and cooperation amongst the various communities on the island.
The Centre would comprise a theatre-style auditorium (with projection facilities) with a capacity of up to 600 people, a multi media library with on-line research facilities, exhibition and gallery space and a museum. It would also have an instructional wing, which would have facilities to conduct classes in vocal and instrumental music, dance and languages, including a language lab. It would also be able to serve as a hub of socio-cultural activities, for which a conference hall-cum-seminar room is included.
In order to select a unique and iconic design for Jaffna Cultural Centre, the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) was entrusted with the task of conducting a National Design Competition. 29 entries were received, out of which the design submitted by Archt. Madura Premathileka was unanimously selected as the design for the Centre. The evaluation was based on the technical acceptability, context plan, aesthetic / architectural language, space efficiency, buildabillity and environmentally friendly, sustainable architecture.