5th Triennial Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Architectural Excellence

Jun 26 2020.

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The Geoffrey Bawa Trust announced eight shortlisted winners in the run-up to the 5th Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Excellence in Architecture. This effort is to recognise and reward outstanding architectural work in Sri Lanka. By honouring them, the Trust helps them to advance in their careers and create exposure for them. 

“The shortlist is more important than the winner because it is only one person that wins but it’s important to be in the conversation about architecture,” said Geoffrey Bawa Trust Chairperson Channa Daswatte. “However, the Awards ceremony scheduled for this year had to be postponed due to the pandemic situation. The shortlist was selected out of almost 60 entries and the judges had a virtual discussion to finalise the list as one of the judges was abroad.”

An eminent and celebrated panel of judges including Nadija Thambiah, Barry Bergdoll, Veranjan Kurukulasuriya, and Swarna Mallawarachchi had the difficult task of shortlisting the winners. One of the criteria for eligibility is that the project should be built in Sri Lanka between July 22, 2009, and July 22, 2019. Each judge brings a multitude of disciplines to the table from art and history to engineering and architectural conservation. Prior to the judges’ visit, on-site technical project review is a compulsory part of the process. The awards ceremony will be held on July 23, 2021
Hence the shortlist of winners is as follows:

  • No. 12, Flower Road - Suresh Mudannayake 
  • Café UFO - RAPA Chartered Architects 
  • Proposed office building for Colombo Municipal Council – Pulasthi Wijekoon, Ruwani Dharmasiri, Thushara Waidyasekara
  • Frame Holiday Structure at Imaduwa – Palinda Kannangara Architects
  • Lanka Learning Centre – Feat.Collective 
  • Santhi Children Home – Associate Professorship of Architectural Design and Timber Construction
  • Studio Apartment for Lavan – MMGS Architects
  • Wild Coast Tented Lodge – Nomadic Resorts 

While thanking the architects for their creations, Daswatte further said that it’s important to have a conversation about architecture in society. “It changes the way we move. It should be a wider discussion because it’s one of the things we spend a lot of money on.”

The Daily Mirror Life also spoke to a few shortlisted winners and here’s what they had to say : 

Palinda Kannangara

“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of Geoffrey Bawa Awards and this is the fifth time I was shortlisted,” said Palinda Kannangara. “It’s a prestigious award in Sri Lanka and it's not only for the Bawa Award but I try to get involved with other award ceremonies because it’s an opportunity to evaluate your work and review it in a Sri Lankan and global context. Eventually, you will know your weaknesses. At the ceremony, they give you feedback, review your work and it’s a value addition I get. It’s an opportunity to explore new trends and see what other architects have done. Bawa Awards is special for me because he was one of the best architects in the world.”

Speaking about his project, Kannangara said that it is a holiday home for a musician built on an abandoned piece of land. “It was a grass field and couldn’t do any agriculture. The land was very sensitive and I thought we could do a temporary building. I used scaffolding as an element to lift the building to avoid flooding. Within three months we did it and only the foundation took a little while. These days we have to understand climate and environmental changes and people can build something light and use some available, reused materials. We used the scaffolding platform as a bridge to walk. This is an initial assignment and could be improved further.”

Thushara Waidyasekara

Thushara Waidyasekara, along with Pulasthi Wijekoon and Ruwani Dharmasiri, was involved with the design for the proposed office building at the Colombo Municipal Council. “The CMC had a design competition and we won the first place,” said Thushara Waidyasekara “Then they awarded the project to us and after a series of discussions we managed to do it. It’s a modern structure competing with the old office complex. Last time also I won an award in one category and it feels great to be shortlisted for the Geoffrey Bawa Award.”

Kanishka Padmapani

Café UFO is a popular hangout spot among those who frequent Ella. The construction done by RAPA Chartered Architects too was shortlisted. “It’s quite an honour to be shortlisted among 60 other projects and it’s a good opportunity for young architects to promote their ideas,” said Kanishka Padmapani. “We wanted to cater to the market in Ella. There’s haphazard development happening there and we wanted to change the pattern. Since tourists are looking for a vernacular touch we took some rustic materials and added a vernacular ambiance to the building. This is the first time we got nominated for the Bawa Awards but the project had won two other international awards.”



Kamanthi Wickramasinghe

A psychology graduate who eventually became a journalist to be a voice for unheard voices. A proud Sri Lankan - Thalassophile - Travel fan - Nature lover - Chocoholic - Extraordinarily loud - Frequent laughaholic. Follow me on Instagram - @kamzylifeTM or FB – Kamanthi Wickramasinghe


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