Aim of Geoffery Bawa Awards to salute outstanding contemporary Lankan architecture


At the press conference: From L-R: Eugenie Mack, Mrs. Sunethra Banadaranaike and Channa Daswatta.

By Steve A. Morrell

There are a few who could fit his degree of expertise and skill, but in contemporary context the Geoffery Bawa phenomenon in an international sphere has not been equaled by Sri Lankan architects, Channa Daswatte, Trustee, Geoffery Bawa Trust, said.

"Could there be an emerging architect who could fit the Bawa image, especially that the awards this year would identify an emerging architect to fit that image", he was asked at last week’s news conference.

Without saying either ‘yes’ or ‘no’, he noted that there are architects being recognized for their work, at least in this part of the world. Asked whether he could name them, Daswatte replied, "Naming them at this point would not encompass the spirit of the awards. However, recognition of an architect to fit the Bawa image could result with such a person being found".

The question was also raised whether there was a documentary of Geoffrey Bawa and his work. The response was there was no such footage, but it is an interesting suggestion that could be considered.

How would you judge a building? What would you look for? was another question. "What we look for would be functionality, what are its practical features, would you live in it? Light, ventilation, all these aspects are judged".

Judges will include Trustee, Geoffrey Bawa Trust, Eugenie Mack, Ashok Lal, an architect specializing in sustainable design, based in New Delhi, President, Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, Professor Chitra Wedikkara and former Under Secretary General, United Nations, Professor Radhika Coomaraswamy.

The 2013/2014 cycle would again attract an award amounting to Rs. one million. On July 23 ,2014, it would be the main awards presentation at an event of glamour and prestige. Renowned Indian film director and producer, Mira Nair is expected to make the keynote address.

The aim of the awards is to recognize and reward outstanding examples of contemporary Sri Lankan architecture. It was not the intention of the Bawa awards that his work would be duplicated, but more to its consideration, encourage dynamism and new methods solving architectural problems.

Interest in the awards will be selective and not concentrated on generating numbers. But, quit aptly, quality of buildings that would be offered to be judged should include basic ingredients that could have people live in a house that would be comfortable and have at hand customary conveniences, he explained.

He said 2008 and 2011 cycles did have outstanding designs that deserved merit. As much as there has to be a winner, there were too, those who qualified to have their works effectively recognized.

The Geoffrey Bawa Scheme modeled on the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva is marked to be an effective model in developing countries since its inauguration in 1977.

Geoffrey Bawa is recognized as one of the greatest architects of the second half of the 20th century and more so, an outstanding personage in the Sri Lankan context.


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