Pursuing the ultimate design
Geoffrey Bawa was one of that rare breed who knew what he wanted and never repeated himself-neither in word nor action. Bawa’s constant quest for innovation made him one of the greatest Asian architects of the latter half of the twentieth century. This pursuit of the ultimate design solution is exactly what the Geoffrey Bawa Trust hopes to encourage when they host the third cycle of the Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Excellence in Architecture next year.
During a career that spanned forty years Bawa designed about thirty hotels including the Bentota Beach and Serendib hotels. Both contributed immeasurably to the image of Sri Lanka that was projected to the rest of the world. Through a series of innovative private houses built during the ‘60s the architect changed the way many Sri Lankans lived, demonstrating how it was possible to be modern and yet still reflect tradition.
He also built schools, orphanages, office buildings, factories, religious buildings and universities, pioneering new ways of studying, working and worshipping in this monsoon climate. Bawa’s greatest legacy is also one of the country’s greatest structures; the Parliament in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is an enduring symbol of democracy for 20 million Sri Lankans.
Make no mistake though-the Bawa Award does not recognise imitation. Two years ago Architect Thisara Thanapathy emerged as the winner for his design of Sarath Abeyrathne’s Narahenpita house. Thanapathy’s work is a brand of its own and that spark of individuality is something the Bawa Trust is keen on. “In establishing the Award, it’s not our intention to encourage the imitation of the work of Geoffrey Bawa,” say the organisers. “We’re looking at work that is dynamic and have introduced new methods of solving problems in architecture.”
The Trust notes that if Geoffrey Bawa were alive today he would be heartened by the number of talented architects now practising in Sri Lanka. “The variety of projects that made the shortlist in the last two cycles was all of consistently high quality with a great deal of innovative thinking represented in them.” The next cycle, they hope, will bring to the spotlight an even more dynamic group of architects in the country.
The Bawa Awards will be held on July 23, 2014. Applications are available (on weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) at the Trust office on No. 11, 33rd Lane off Bagatale Road, Colombo. Documents are to be submitted before November 1, 2013. The judges for the 2013/2014 cycle of awards will be Ms. Eugenie Mack (Trustee, Geoffrey Bawa Trust), Architect Ashok Lall (Architect specialising in sustainable design based in New Delhi), Prof. Chitra Wedikkara (President, Sri Lanka Institute of Architects and the Managing Director of Chartered Architect/Quantity Surveyor Qservgggvt) Ltd.), and Deshamanya Prof. Radhika Coomaraswamy (former Under Secretary General of the United Nations and Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict).
The recipient of the prestigious award will be granted a one million rupee prize in recognition of their work. For donations, please contact the Geoffrey Bawa Trust on 011 4337335 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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