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'Architect 2011' to be held in February

Now in its 29th consecutive year, the Annual Sessions of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) is all set to take place from the 23rd to 27th of February 2011. The Architect 2011 will be carried by the imperative and very relevant theme of 'Architecture for All, City + Community.' The forthcoming session will be kicked-off with a grand Inauguration Ceremony and will feature the annual Work and Trade Exhibition - the foremost exhibiting platform of the Sri Lankan construction industry, the National Conference focused on the theme as well as the Annual General Meeting of the SLIA, and a Fellowship Night of celebration.

Speaking on the theme behind the 2011 session Archt. Chandana Edirisuriya, President of SLIA says, "After the war the Government has initiated many ways to fast-track development projects in this country and I think the Government focused initially on the infrastructure; roads, airports and ports while they are also very sincere and keen on resettling the shanty dwellers. We felt that it was important to communicate to the Government what the SLIA have done up to now in national development efforts; during Tsunami and floods, SLIA was involved very actively in rebuilding efforts. So we take this as an opportunity to communicate to the Government and public as to the capabilities and capacities of the Sri Lankan architects and what we have to offer."

The four-day schedule expects to see the participation of many an eminent dignitary as well as renowned foreign architects. The sessions are planned to be unveiled in the presence of Guests of Honour Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Ashok K. Kantha, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka and Ruth Reed, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) while the National Conference is scheduled to be presided over by the Chief Guest, Wimal Weerawansa, Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities and Guest of Honour Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor Of Central Bank.

The National Conference of the Architect 2011, is planned to include Jaime Lerner, renowned Brazilian architect and urban planner as its keynote speaker and many other prominent internationally acclaimed architects including Ruth Reed, President RIBA, Mubasshar Hussain, President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), George Kunihiro, President of the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) and architects representing India, Portugal as well as Vietnam in attendance.

Together with the distinguished panel of SLIA members the Conference will explore aspects of the architect's role in creating the city for the community and the new issues confronting the architect in fulfilling this task focusing on past achievements and philosophies in community architecture and emerging issues and trends to be taken into consideration as well as subject matters of community projects such as mass housing, shanty resettlement and Tsunami housing. A convergence of varied expertise spanning the globe, the Conference will bring about much deliberation and provoke thought on its current and praiseworthy theme of 'Architecture for All, City + Community.'

Speaking on international participation and relations Archt. Jayantha Perera, Immediate Past President of SLIA went on to say, "We had many international events during the troubled period in Sri Lanka; the ARCASIA Forum and Council Meeting, the CAA General Assembly, the SAARCH General Assembly. On all these events we were able to get the maximum degree of foreign participation in Sri Lanka. The relationship we have with these international institutions is so close."

A major highlight of the Annual Sessions, the Trade and Work Exhibition remains one of the most prominent and visited exhibitions in the construction industry. The forthcoming exhibition will have close to 350 stalls with 260 construction related companies displaying their wares and services and 90 members panels displaying their architectural work. An important aspect of the 2011 Exhibition will be the help desk, which will suffice any public inquiry as to almost anything relating to architecture and what is needed to know before building. "What I can say to the general public is to make use of this exhibition. It is an opportunity for architects to get closer to the public as well as for the public to get to know the architects," says Archt. Harsha Fernando, Honorary Secretary of the SLIA.

Together with the Inauguration Ceremony, the SLIA will be recognising excellence and achievement in the architectural profession with an awards ceremony. Four spheres will be adjudged for acknowledgement including design, use of colour, the young architect of the year and research and publication. "While practicing, architects may have tendencies to limit their scopes and improvement, as an institution the SLIA uses awards schemes to enhance and improve the quality of the work they do. Sri Lankan producers in the trade too are also encouraged by this awards scheme and even this year there were several innovative products submitted for the awards," says Archt. Ranjan Nadesapillai, Senior Vice President of SLIA.

The Architect 2011 will also see a new Council taking over for the 2011/2012 session and Archt. Ranjan Nadesapillai, the current Senior Vice President of SLIA taking over the reigns of Presidency from Archt. Chandana Edirisuriya. Further, in preparation to be launched in celebration of the coming Annual Sessions is an exclusive edition titled '50 Years of Architecture in Sri Lanka.' "It is a very valuable book, there will be no such book including information of nearly 122 members' work of over 200 projects spanning the past 50 years," says Archt. Russell Dandeniya, Chairman - Board of Architectural Publications of the SLIA.

The Inauguration Ceremony will take place on the evening of 23rd February while the Exhibition will be opened to the public soon after, beginning from the 24th and spanning till the 27th during the hours of 10am and 9pm. The 24th will also see the National Conference taking place and the Annual General Meeting of the SLIA is planned for the 26th. The sessions are set to close with gala celebrations, food and entertainment on the 27th and final day with the Fellowship Night.

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