known Sri Lankan Engineer Dr. A. N. S. Kulasinghe, 86 years,
passed away last Tuesday (14) after ailing for a long period. He
is a superior engineer who introduced the method of pre-stressed
Dr. Kulasinghe obtained a Degree qualification
and his Doctorate from local and foreign universities and was
awarded honourary membership by many international engineering
institutions including those in the United Kingdom and India.
He was the creator of the concrete revolution
which opened a new dimension in the construction industry
through the introduction of the pre - fabricated concrete
method. He was instrumental in using rubber, ash, coir dust and
paddy husk as supplements in making concrete posts as an
alternative to the traditional concrete based on cement, metal
and sand. He pioneered the use of local raw materials in a
number of inventions using coconut charcoal for energy
production and coal and wood for operating machines, promoted
mini-hydro electric schemes using rural waterways and
reservoirs, minimised the use of wood for house building and
invented a fuel conserving carburettor.
Dr. Kulasinghe was a practical engineer who
spent most of his time in the field than in air-conditioned
office. His career starting from the hydro electricity field
spread into other areas making vast contributions to many
institutions such as the Ports Authority, State Engineering
Corporation, State Hardware Corporation and the Steel
Arumadura Nandasena Silva Kulasinghe was born in
Udammita in Ja-Ela on October 26, 1919. After his mother’s
death, he shifted to his sister’s home in Wadduwa in the
Kalutara District. As his first school he entered the Wadduwa
English Boys College. After studying seven years at the Wadduwa
English College, he was moving to the Mari Stella College,
Negombo in 1934 when his residence changed back to Ja-Ela. Young
Kulasinghe passed the Junior School Certificate Examination with
first class level at the Maris Stella College.
Dr. Kulasinghe had an ambition to be an engineer
from his childhood. He wanted to study Physics as a subject in
his higher education. That time, Kulasinghe was waiting for
higher studies at his home. However, he was not spending time
without studies. He was participating in the evening classes of
the Technical College. Yet Kulasinghe could obtain little
knowledge about technology at these evening classes.
Afterwards, the advanced level classes started.
Kulasinghe entered St. Benedicts’ College Kotahena for his
advanced level studies. He chose Sinhala as a subject in
addition to Physics and Mathematics. Sinhala language was
neglected at that time due to several reasons. But, Kulasinghe
wanted to study Sinhala because of his unending desire for
learning local languages. He could have got first place in first
term test. But, Kulasinghe was not going to stop participating
the evening classes in the Technical College.
Dr. Kulasinghe is not only a scientist. He is a
good Tabla and flute player. He was learning Music at the time
of attending the evening classes of the Technical College. At
that time, he participated in the SLBC programmes too as a Tabla
and Flute player.
In 1939, the Second World War time, he could not
wait for exams for a long time. Kulasinghe joined the Norton
Bridge Hydro Power Project as a Technical Assistant in 1940. The
Principal of the Technical College supported him to join the
project. The Norton Bridge Project was a golden opportunity to
Kulasinghe to learn the practical application of what he had
learnt. After some time, in 1943, he was promoted as the
residential engineer of the project. However, Kulasinghe left
the project and joined the Colombo harbour in 1944 as a junior
1946 was a memorable year to the young
Kulasinghe. He got married with Dulsy Swarnalatha in 1946. After
1948, the year of independence, Kulasinghe was promoted as the
deputy engineer of the Sri Lanka port. He was playing a breaking
role in this post.
However, Dr. Kulasinghe became famous with his
concrete technology. At that time, the pre stressed concrete
construction technology was only in Europe. Kulasinghe
introduced the pre stressed concrete technology to Sri Lanka in
1949 by his own researches. After several researches, Kulasinghe
obtained a patent for his pre stressed concrete technology in
1956. Then Kulasinghe was famous for his researches. He was
given a chance to attend the pre stressed concrete federation
held in Oslo in 1957. Kulasinghe presented his concepts at the
federation as the Sri Lankan representative.
In 1962, Kulasinghe was appointed as the
director of several institutions such as Tyre Corporation and
Steel Corporation by the Minister of Industries, Maithreepala
At that time, the funds came to Sri Lanka from
socialist countries such as Russia. They did not like to give
constructions to western countries based companies. Then, there
was the need of a local institution for constructions. It paved
the way to the birth of the State Engineering Corporation (SEC).
The Sri Lankan government established the State Engineering
Corporation under the Industrial Development Act. A. N. S.
Kulasinghe was appointed as the first chairman of the SEC.
After that, the SEC contributed to a large
number of key constructions in the country. The Planetarium was
constructed for the Industrial Exhibition of 1964 according to a
concept of Kulasinghe. The Kalutara chetiya was also constructed
according to Kulasinghe’s concept. Kothmale Maha Seya, Waraya
Chethiya other Chetiyas were also constructed under his
He retired from the SEC in 1971 and went abroad.
There he participated in conducting lectures in Malaysia,
Thailand and Indonesia on the request of the United Nations
However, in 1977, he returned to Sri Lanka and
was appointed as the Chairman of the National Engineering
Research Institute (NERD) at the request of the Mahaveli
Development Minister Gamini Dissanayake. He was also the founder
Chairman of the Inventors’ Commission of Sri Lanka.
Dr. Kulasinghe who has immensely contributed to
the Engineering field in this country today sleeps his last
sleep. Sri Lanka as a third world country, which looks to the
West for everything has lot to learn from his life. Being
blessed with natural resources, but not so with intellects to
get the full use of them, Sri Lanka will miss Dr. Kulasinghe
more than ever.
Some inventions of Dr. Kulasinghe
1. Crop drying machine using solar
energy — Could be used for drying scraped coconut, vegetables,
fruits and fish.
2. Domes measuring 100’x33’, interior,
with the concrete roof, remains without subotancial renovation
for the last 37 years.
3. "Umbrella-shaped" roof — a
technology that could be used as roof cover of vehicle-parking
4. Mahaweli Maha Seya, dome-shaped
stupa at Kotmale with 200’ diameter at the circular base with
1" thick interior concrete plaster and Kaolin brick cover in
5. Kalutara Bodi Stupa, the first of
its kind with semi-globular shape 100’ in diameter 5’.5" in
thickness, using "thin-concrete" technology.
6. Sambuddha Jayanthi Stupa — Chetiya
Thin concrete laid chetiya, using thin
concrete, measuring 250’ in height with the arch, the slab
being 60’x60’, consists a library, shrine room, oration room
and a public hall, erected on Sambuddha Jayanti Commemoration
7. Water-pumping tank, with an inverted
conical shaped summit with a supporting pillar, at the B.M.I.A.
8. Sewers manufactured in rubber
covered moulds, at Mahiyangana hospital.
9. A low-cost water-boiling equipment,
using solar energy.
10. 4’ length clay tiles launched by
the State Engineering Cooperation.
Garbage re-cycling plant 30 ton plants used in
Manning Town market complex.
12. Baking Machine — operated using saw
dust, with capacity for baking 128 loaves of bread per hour.
13. Kulasinghe auditorium at the NERD
Centre made of thin concrete, 200’ in diameter; a replica is
found at the Peradeniya University.
14. The interior at Lanka Laylands with
composite clay covered rafters.
15. Gas crematorium - used with fire
wood converted to gas.
16. Concrete boats - launched by the
Engineering Corporation in 1967, founded in Singapore in 1971
and in Malaysia in 1972.
17. Plane forming with "V" shaped
Arch-shaped asbestos roof.