The Geoffrey Bawa Awards 2016/2017 for Excellence in Architecture


Ena de Silva’s house reconstructed at Lunuganga, Bentota just as it was.

Geoffrey Bawa seems immortal. His name is mentioned more now, and much more is written about him after his death than while he lived. Even though 14 years have passed since his death, his legacy remains prominently in the buildings he left behind: the Parliament, University of Ruhuna, hotels, particularly Heritance Kandalama, and the houses he built. Although there have been some significant losses (like the demolition of the Ena de Silva house in Kollupitiya which was happily reconstructed at Lunuganga) his name is perpetuated and his work appreciated much more than before. For this the people who carry his name forward are to be thanked.

"The Geoffrey Bawa Trust was established as a charitable trust in October 1982 with the objectives of the advancement and promotion of education and knowledge and the furtherance of ecological and environmental studies, architecture, the fine arts, music, drama and sculpture as well as scientific, technical and literary pursuits. With the Lunuganga Trust, it has set up a national award scheme to recognize and reward significant examples of contemporary Sri Lankan architecture." The aim of the scheme is both to foster the production of good architecture and to encourage its wider appreciation in the community. The Board of Trustees for both Trusts are Sunethra Bandaranaike, Mr Ward Beling, Archt Channa Daswatte, Ms Suhanya Raffel and Ms Eugene Mack.

The award scheme has been consciously modeled on that of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva. That scheme is generally acknowledged to have had a very marked effect on architecture in developing countries since it was inaugurated by HRH the Aga Khan in 1977 and has now completed ten of its three-year cycles. The Trust also acknowledges the importance of the honour, which was bestowed upon Desamanya Geoffrey Bawa when he received HRH the Aga Khan’s Special Award for a Lifetime’s Achievement in Architecture in 2001.

This year’s awards

Since 2008, the two Trusts have made the Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Excellence in Architecture on a triennial basis, thus four cycles have been held, the 2017 awards ceremony being on Sunday July 23 at the Park Street Mews. After Ms Suhanya Raffel made her welcome address, Archt Channa Daswatte expressed appreciation and spoke on the Lifetime Achievement Award and introduced the short listed projects. Music interludes were presented by the group Music Matters.

The Awards of Appreciation were presented to Architect Amila de Mel, Engineer Deepal Wickremasinghe, Quantity Surveyor Joe Fernando and Architect/ Archeologist Nilan Cooray. They richly deserve the honour and awards for their excellent, painstakingly detailed translocation of the Osmund and Ena de Silva house, demolished at No 5 Alfred Place, Colombo 3, and taken tile by tile, stone by stone, brick by brick and plants too, to Lunuganga, Bentota and reconstructed just as it was.

The Geoffrey Bawa Award for Lifetime Contribution to Architecture was awarded to author David Robson. "His works constitute an extensive record not only of the work and influence of Geoffrey Bawa but also the history of the architecture of Sri Lanka from the earliest times to the present day." It is interesting to note that past winners were Ena de Silva and Barbara Sansoni (2010/2011) and Prof Senaka Bandaranaike and Prof Ronald Lewcock


Excitement was noticeably palpable on the Sunday late evening at the Mews as it came time for awarding recognition to the best projects from the eleven short listed from entries submitted. Samadhi Nature Resort, Narampanawa, (2014); by Mr. W.C. Jayasinghe

* Citizens Development Business Finance PLC Bank and Corporate Office, Colombo 10 (2015); Archt. Shayan Kumaradas

* Olu Beach Villa, Ambalangoda (2013); Mr. Michael Danne Bolier (Architect from the Netherlands)

* Auditorium & Accommodation Chinmaya Mission, Ramboda (2014); Archt. Yudish Ganesen

* Mihila Green Factory, Agalawatte (2008); Archt. Tilak Samarawickrama

* The Urban Haven- Renovation & Addition to Carlton Pre-School, Colombo 10 (2014); Archt. Ranga Dayasena

* Sterling Aftercare Center, Galle (2016); Archt. Thusara Waidyasekera

* Studio Dwelling, Rajagiriya (2015); Archt. Palinda Kannangara

* Family Retreat, Malabe (2014); Archt. Palinda Kannangara

* Spa at Santani, Kandy (2015); by Archt. Thisara Thanapathy

* Kaithady District Vocational Training Center, Jaffna (2015);

Archt. Chinthaka Wickramage and Archt. Nileeka Senerath.

This time an innovation was that projects were categorized under relevant headings and awards made for each category. The awards and awardees were announced by Archt Channa Daswatte and the obelisk trophies handed out by Trustee Suhanya Raffel.

Best of Awards were:

Residential : Studio Dwelling; Archt. Palinda Kannangara

Honorable mention: Olu Beach Villa ; Mr. Michael Danne Bolier


Citizens Development Business Finance PLC Bank; Archt. Shayan Kumaradas


Kaithady District Vocational Tr. Center; Archts. Chinthaka Wickramage & Nileeka Senerath.

Hon. mention: Auditorium & Accommodation Chinmaya Mission; Yudish Ganesen

 Leisure and Entertainment Category:

Spa at Santani, Kandy; Archt. Thisara Thanapathy

Industrial , Transport and Infrastructure :

Sterling Aftercare Center, Galle; Archt. Thusara Waidyasekera

Geoffrey Bawa Award for Excellence in Architecture 2017

Spa at Santani by Archt. Thisara Thanapathy

I remember being driven to Agalawatte by Architect Tilak Samarawickrema no sooner he had completed the Mihila Green Factory, to marvel at how seamlessly the factory building blended with the lush growth of a near tropical forest. The factory consumed minimum energy to keep it going. Michael Danne Bolier is the grandson of a neighbour. He came over just for three days to be present at the awards ceremony and departed to the Netherlands happy, I am certain, as he won a honorable mention plus an ‘obelisk’. He designed Olu Beach Villa at Ambalangoda for his parents who decided some years ago to leave the Netherlands and live in Sri Lanka.

Gratitude is due in plenty to those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to continue Bawa’s legacy and to make the award cycle happen, including architects C. Anjalendran and Channa Daswatte. The awards do much to promote good architecture in Sri Lanka and to recognize emerging talent. The next Bawa Awards will be in 2020.

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