Reinventing creative architectural craft in Sri Lanka

2 August 2017 01:23 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The project that acquired the Geoffrey Bawa Award 2016/2017 for Excellence in Architecture for Architect Thisara Thanapathy

The Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Excellence in Architecture strives to recognize architecture in Sri Lanka 

Geoffrey Bawa was recognised as having been among the greatest Asian architects of the second half of the Twentieth Century. He was also one of the most significant Sri Lankans of his time. He was Sri Lanka’s most influential and prolific architect and South Asia’s leading guru of tropical architecture, also known as tropical modernism. Within a span of about 50 years, he created a wide range of architectural works, mostly in southwest Sri Lanka, which established a prototype for buildings in newly independent Sri Lanka.   

Since his demise, the Geoffrey Bawa Trust has organised ‘The Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Excellence in Architecture’ to celebrate the life and work of the renowned architect whose name they carry and strive to stimulate. The trust believes the event will help reinvent creative architectural craft and fine-tune the creative skill of the country’s architects.  

This year’s awards ceremony saw an all new catergorisation of awards, in response to the fact that many assumptions were made about contemporary Sri Lankan architecture; now in a stage of flux

Architect Thisara Thanapathy was adjudged as the winner of the prestigious Geoffrey Bawa Awards 2016/2017 for Excellence in Architecture, for his creative design of the Spa at Santani, Kandy. It was the second time he has won the prestigious award. Previously he received this award in 2011 for his design of the Sarath Abeyrathne House.   

He was also adjudged as the winner of the Leisure and Entertainment Category at the awards which just concluded. The spa and wellness centre uses a minimal material palette and has a minimalist approach to making simple rectilinear spaces to achieve a certain architectural silence. In his own words, “Santani is a spa and wellness centre that attempts to play a role in the facilitation of silence in the landscape while providing the services of a spa. Silence is seen here as the antidote to our hyper connected and noisy world. This is achieved by making a building that almost entirely disappears into the landscape as a series of stone terraces planted with grass,” said Thanapathy. 

The Lifetime Award went toProf. David Robson who was recognized for the singular honour of having contributed consistently through his work towards the greater appreciation of architecture. He was presented with the Geoffrey Bawa Award for Lifetime Contribution to Architecture by Geoffrey Bawa Trustee Suhanya Raffel. Among Prof. David Robson’s outstanding achievements in Sri Lanka were the planning of the ‘Hundred Thousand Houses Programme’ and the master-plan of the Rampokunagama New Town.   

Tokens of appreciation were presented to the team involved in dismantling, moving, reconstruction and conservation of the Ena de Silva house at Lunuganga, a first of its kind project in Sri Lanka. Architect Amila de Mel, Engineer Deepal Wickremasinghe, Quantity Surveyor Joe Fernando and Architect and Archaeologist Nilan Cooray received these awards.   

Australian artistic photographer, painter and sculptor, Fiona Hall being the Guest Speaker of the ceremony, delivered the keynote address. Distinguished Singaporean architect Mok Wei Wei made the judge’s address at the ceremony.   

This year’s awards ceremony saw an all new catergorisation of awards, in response to the fact that many assumptions were made about contemporary Sri Lankan architecture; now in a stage of flux.   

Explaining the rationale behind this move, the judges said, “We asked if it was possible, or indeed fair, to compare a hotel with a training centre or a car maintenance facility in terms of their respective architectural briefs, functionality, form and of course budgets. Our decision to introduce categories recognizes architectural projects that might not otherwise make it to a shortlist, which in turn allowed for comparisons to be made on more equitable terms without compromising on a standard of excellence”.    

The five categories of awards are: Residential; Commercial; Institutional; Industrial, Transport and infrastructure; and Leisure and entertainment.   

The list of category winners at the Geoffrey Bawa Awards 2016/2017 are: Residential - (best of category) - Studio Dwelling, Rajagiriya (2015), Architect Palinda Kannangara, (honourable mention) - Olu Beach Villa, Ambalangoda (2013), Michael Danne Bolier; Commercial - (best of category) - Citizens Development Business Finance PLC Bank and Corporate Office, Colombo 10 (2015), Architect Shayan Kumaradas; Institutional - (best of category) Kaithady District Vocational Training Centre, Jaffna (2015), Architect Chinthaka Wickramage and Nileeka Senerath, (honourable mention) Auditorium and Accommodation Chinmaya Mission, Ramboda (2014), Architect Yudish Ganesen; Industrial, transport and infrastructure - (best of category) Sterling Aftercare Centre, Galle (2016), by Architect Thushara Waidyasekera; Leisure and entertainment - (best of category) Spa at Santani, Kandy (2015), Architect Thisara Thanapathy.   

In the build up to the awards ceremony, the judges visited all the shortlisted projects alongside a technical team and made deliberations in January by visiting a total of 15 projects out of 65 submissions received out of which 11 were shortlisted

In the build up to the awards ceremony, the judges visited all the shortlisted projects alongside a technical team and made deliberations in January by visiting a total of 15 projects out of 65 submissions received out of which 11 were shortlisted.   

The panel of judges further noted, “What connects the 11 shortlisted projects isn’t easy to classify, but if they have anything in common it would be that they all question, in one way or another, what we come to expect when we think of contemporary architecture in the country”.  

“Our final shortlist was made on the basis of recognizing that architecture in Sri Lanka is changing with the times and bringing with it new clients and social and welfare agendas, along with questions of sustainable or green architecture. We believe these changes need to be recognized, and the Geoffrey Bawa Award for Excellence in Architecture makes this possible,” they further stated.   

Another significant occurrence at this year’s awards ceremony was that two unexpected projects were shortlisted for the first time; one by a non-architect who is Sri Lankan and the other by a Dutch architect. This suggests that Sri Lankan architecture has attained a level of maturity in design that has opened doors to the participation of non-professional Sri Lankans and overseas contenders.   
The shortlisted projects in the order of submissions: Samadhi Nature Resort, Narampanawa, (2014),

W.C. Jayasinghe; Citizens Development Business Finance PLC Bank and Corporate Office, Colombo 10 (2015), Architect Shayan Kumaradas; Olu Beach Villa, Ambalangoda (2013), Michael Danne Bolier (Architect from the Netherlands); Auditorium and Accommodation Chinmaya Mission, Ramboda (2014), Architect Yudish Ganesen; Mihila Green Factory, Agalawatte (2008), Architect Tilak Samarawickrama; The Urban Haven- Renovation and Addition to Carlton Pre-School, Colombo 10 (2014), Architect Ranga Dayasena; Sterling Aftercare Centre, Galle (2016), Architect Thusara Waidyasekera; Studio Dwelling, Rajagiriya (2015), Architect Palinda Kannangara; Family Retreat, Malabe (2014), Architect Palinda Kannangara; Spa at Santani, Kandy (2015), Architect Thisara Thanapathy; and Kaithady District Vocational Training Centre, Jaffna (2015), Architect Chinthaka Wickramage and Nileeka Senerath.   

The judging panel for the 2016/2017 cycle comprised distinguished Singaporean architect Mok Wei Wei, Geoffrey Bawa Trust representative Ward Beling, Sri Lanka Institute of Architects President elect D. H. Wijewardene and Raking Leaves and Sri Lanka Archives for Art, Architecture and Design and Jaffna Founder/Director Sharmini Pereira (Considered to be an informed lay person)  

 

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