Architect Philip Weeraratne, one of Sri Lanka’s foremost and renowned Architects, leads a design team of young, dynamic Architects & Interior designers, who have worked on a wide range of projects from commercial buildings, interiors, boutique hotels, beach resorts, and private residences, as well as being an active participant in social welfare projects. Philip has also operated in collaboration with several world-famous Architects and currently practices on projects in Singapore, India, Oman, and the Maldives in addition to his regular practice in Sri Lanka.
Q What made you become an Architect – passion or career?
Most definitely passion – As a child, I was always making things out of scrap material and this caught the eye of my mother and my relatives. Of course, the decision to be an Architect was upon a divine unction that my mother who was a spiritual person received, amidst her prayers, with regards to my future.
Q As you are a lover of the outdoors and a wildlife enthusiast, how have these two factors influenced your work?
Tremendously. I love bringing the outdoors indoors and creating spaces in the outdoors for living. I also love playing with vegetation, water, and other elements of nature as a feature in the buildings that our Studio designs, and I am a great proponent of playing with sunlight, shadows, and shade.
Q What steps do you take in your profession as an Architect to mitigate climate warming?
To be honest, the problem is greater than mere superficial antidotes, even though I could impress you by saying that we do a lot, but having said that, our architecture tries its best to engage with nature, the lay of the land and the nature scape and thereby I do believe, that unwittingly we do make some sort of contribution towards mitigating climate warming.
Q What is the most difficult and challenging aspect of your job?
In trying to create architecture and buildings of an international standard,
using resources and manpower that may not be altogether interested in taking pride in their work.
Q How did you cope with COVID-19 and how did it impact your work?
I really enjoyed the break from the mobile phone and emails, and it gave me the rare luxury of unfettered ability to meditate and contemplate some of the more important things in life. With regards to our work, by keeping a positive mindset and a creation of a positive aura, and not giving into a fear psychosis, essentially faith, we have not only retained our current projects but also been able to secure a couple of significant projects during this period.
Q How often do you travel overseas on work and do you enjoy it?
I must confess that I find the minutest excuse to go overseas since this truly refreshes my mind and creativity and empowers me to be able to see beyond the constrictions and veneers of my local environment.
Q In your opinion which is more important for a child – Education or Environment?
I would say quite frankly from my observations and experience an education set amidst a conducive natural environment, with a curriculum that majors in the engagement of the environment by the child is what is really needed.
Q What is your opinion on homeschooling?
Having enjoyed the positives of going to school, such as social interaction, creation of long-standing relationships and the ability to interact and interface with varied individuals across different strata of society and having seen and experienced the troubles, traumas, and joys of each individual, I would never exchange such a rich experience for the isolation of homeschooling.
Q What is the role religion plays in your life and in your work?
I would like to state that spirituality more than religion plays a great role in my life and work, since religion is a creation of man for the purposes of control, and spirituality really frees within, true and deep life-changing engagements.
Q Does religion play a determining role in shaping children or not?
As long as religion does not drive fear, judgement, and condemnation, and doesn’t cause a child to grow up in a caustic attitude of self-righteousness, I believe religion converted into proper spiritual belief is essential for the healthy development of the character of a person.
Q What is the greatest stumbling block you have encountered when working in different locales and different people?
We are thankful that our team hasn’t really encountered any stumbling blocks since we are a relatively flexible diverse team that believes in adaption, integration, and mutual respect for varied cultures and work ethics with a strong underlined principle of respect and mutual honour.
Q Who or what has influenced your work and your personal life the most?
It would not be fair to name one individual, since at varied stages of my life, different people have played significant roles, from my maternal grandmother who was an extremely vivacious and multifaceted “creative darling” to my Aunt who is a renowned Artist, to my first-year Design tutor who broke all my perceptions of architecture and design to milestone clients and architects we have collaborated with, to varied spiritual leaders and my parents who have had an impact on my life in various dimensions and planes.
Q What is your stance on abortion?
The very word “abortion” means to abort something that is to take life and become a beautiful creation, therefore as someone who is pro-life and pro living, a proponent of beauty and creation, I really cannot agree to any thought of abortion, whatever it may be. Of course, if a doctor advises for the sake of safety and security, then that is a clear medical decision and I would not have a problem with that.
Q What is your opinion of same sex marriages ?
There are many things that I agree and do not agree with and these are my personal beliefs and opinions based on my spiritual subscriptions, but I am not in a position to determine on behalf of other people about the choices they make and I do not stand in judgement of people’s choices. Neither do they look better or worse in my eyes as per their choices.
Q Books or television - which appeals to you more?
My opinion is that books engage the intellect and mind on a different dimension and TV engages the intellect and mind on another dimension, therefore one is attracted to either one depending on the mood, need and the time of day.
Q Are you the Captain of your Ship or do you believe in a pre ordained destiny?
I am the Captain of my ship, but driven by the wind and the sea which are controlled by something greater than me, but focused on a clear destiny, maneuvering and making the right choices, propelled, empowered and under the guidance of the great 'I am'.
By Anusha David