The present study provides a new perspective on qualitative housing needs by analyzing the role of the state and the market in the context of economic liberalization. Liberalization of the economy, rapid urbanization, and the latest trends in the labor market have contributed directly towards the current heavy demand for residential buildings in Metropolitan Colombo. From 1978, both the state and the private sector have catered to the housing market in a competitive manner. But it is evident that the private sector now commands the role of the 'leader'. The state housing complexes exhibit a monotonous physical structure. This is due to the state attempt of providing houses with limited living space at low cost. It is argued that any changes to an original house design can be considered as a result of dissatisfaction over the original. Housing complexes constructed by the private sector however are generally more attractive, catering to the preferences of the upwardly mobile middle class people. The findings of this research will help in formulating appropriate urban housing policies and strategies to cater to the individual housing needs in future.
Sri Lankan Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Vol.1(1) July 2009