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Anandians in Architecture

The post independent enthusiasm driven by the nationalist ideas that were suppressed for many centuries under foreign rules, had relevance and meaning to sketch a new identity for the post independent Sri Lanka, specially in the field of Architecture. This was and perhaps still remains, the most important challenge and responsibility of the practicing architects, who all are the members of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA).

Since independence, one could now identify four distinct schools of thought of architecture that emerged at the time as attempts to seek a character in architecture that is truly Lankan.

The most popular was to continue Kandyan architectural motifs and details of the past on the post independent buildings. There was a tendency, especially among the Sinhala Buddhist population to consider these details and the character expressed was unmistakably Buddhist and Sinhala architectural expression The Kandyan roof appealed favourably to the majority, Sinhala Buddhist population. It was used either directly or in a modified version in the buildings of significance.

The others took refuge in the character and style of Dutch Architecture that was predominant around the coastal belt of pre independent Ceylon. The features such as the wide veranda, the independent circular pillars that supported a pitched roof, either a gable or a hip, the centre courtyard were considered suited well to the tropical climate of Sri Lanka.

The third school considered Sri Lanka as a part of global economy and found the answer in the International style of architecture. The western norms and philosophies of architecture took root in the soil which had little or no attention to our traditions and climate. However the international style was appealing to the newly emerging elite section of the population of post independent Sri Lanka who had the opportunity to travel abroad and understand the living patterns of other societies.

Sri Lanka did not offer at any level a formal education in architecture. Those who wished to be qualified as architects had to seek education and knowledge from abroad and the seven year course offered by the overseas institutions were expensive and time consuming. Thus architecture, among Sri Lankans became a profession of the elite. The patriotic few who qualified themselves abroad, mostly in the UK, saw the necessity of establishing a course of formal architectural education in the island and influenced the government to establish such institutions. But of course, they have to rely on the framework offered by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the governing body of architecture in the UK and perhaps that of the commonwealth – all practising architects in Sri Lanka at the time were members of the RIBA - to structure the course.

As a result, the Institute of Practical Technology (IPT) at Rathmalana, was established in 1961 to conduct a three year course in architecture to prepare the Sri Lankan citizens to sit the Intermediate examination of RIBA. Those qualified the Inter RIBA, still had to seek final academic studies abroad to qualify as a professional architect to practice.

Later, in 1957, the Ceylon Institute of Architects (CIA) was established with twelve Chartered Architects practising in Sri Lanka who were qualified abroad, mostly in the UK. Nineteen years later, Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) was incorporated by an act of Parliament called Sri Lanka Institute of Architects Law No.1 of 1976. All members of the SLIA are referred to as Chartered Architects and are governed by the code of conduct, rules and regulations of the SLIA.

The honour of being the first Anandian Architect to return to Sri Lanka after qualifying abroad – Sheffield UK - was Archt. Sepala Molligoda. He was attached to the Public Works Department and was also a lecturer in Building Construction in the new course of study in the department / faculty of Architecture. He was the first a Anadian architect to hold the office of President SLIA from 1968-1969.        

The first Anandian to enter (1964) the IPT was Ranjith Wijesekera who now lives in Australia. In 1966 he was followed by  Ranjith De Silva and Nihal Bodhinayake. The former obtained a Ph.D. in architecture and now lives in Canada.

The first contribution of Nihal Bodhinayake to Alma mater was the task of handling the multi-storey laboratory and lecture room block as the project architect while serving as an assistant architect with Inter RIBA qualification at the State Engineering Corporation. He was the first Anandian to win after the Inter RIBA, a Colombo Plan award in architecture, to complete studies in University of New South Wales, Australia.  He was also the first Anandian to be awarded a Masters degree in architecture by the same University for his pioneering works on symbolism in Buddhist architecture. On his return he joined Edwards Reid and Begg (1979 to 1989) where he was assigned by Geoffrey Bawa to handle the design and construction of the Arts and Science Faculties of the University of Ruhuna, Wellamadam, Matara.

While he was at ER&B the OBA of Ananda College invited him to be the Honarary Consultant Architect to design the prestigious centenary building comprising the administrative complex and the principal’s office.

He left ER&B in 1992 to establish his own firm, Nihal Bodhinayake Associates he has completed many national and international projects. The UNDP apartment building for the internationally recruited expatriates in Hanoi, Viet Nam in 1990, and the Guest House, a display centre and two private houses he did in India are among his works abroad.  The design of The Tea Factory Hotel at Kandapola stand out as the first of its kind to convert an abandoned tea factory to a star class hotel.. This attempt of adaptive re-use of a building received world wide recognition for excellence in architecture and won many international awards. It is worthwhile to mention here that he won the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveys – RICS - award at a gathering in London where HRH Price of Wales was the chief guest. For the same project he received awards from UNESCO at a ceremony held in Jakarta, and AYA award from Shri A.K Gujaral, the then Prime Minister of India.

Locally the Tea Factory Hotel at Kandapola and the Fortress Hotel, Koggala are considered as land mark projects in Sri Lanka architecture. His design of a domestic house at Kalapaluwawa won the AYA award again presented by the then Vice President of India.

He also has served as a lecturer at the faculty of Architecture, University of Moratuwa as well as in the city school of architecture. He was the external examiner for B.Sc and M.Sc levels in architecture at of University of Moratuwa. He held the office of assistant Secretary as the Senior Vice President of the SLIA. He has been the keynote speaker in Hospitality architecture in Mountain Conclave, in Munar, India, organised by the Indian Institute of Architects. He has also shared his knowledge of architecture by contributing to the SLIA Journal and was a co-editor of the 50th anniversary publication of the SLIA. He was a founder member of the original Architects Guild of Ananda College.

Senevi De Silva and Milroy Perera who joined the lecture course when it was absorbed by the University of Colombo as a Department.

After qualifying in the UK, Milroy Perera worked mostly in the UK. He was a close associate of Geoffrey Bawa and assisted him in many of his architectural works. Milroy was the co- consultant with Geoffrey Bawa for the hotels, Blue water at Wadduwa and and Kandalama at Dambulla.  He established Milroy Perera Associates with his sons 2201 who are also qualified architects, remodelled and refurbished the P De S Kularathna Hall of Ananda Coellge to its present glory, which was originally designed by the State Engineering Corporation.

He has contributed to Sri Lanka Architectural landscape with multi-storey condominium projects referred to as Fairway and Fair Mont. They stand tall among projects of international style of similar nature. He also has been a lecturer at the University of Mortauwa, and the city school of architecture and served as the RIBA external examiner for  B.Sc and M.Sc in architecture at the University of Moratuwa. He was the General Secretary, the Vice Chairman and the Treasurer of the United National Party. He was a founder member of the original Architects Guild of Ananda College.

Sunil Amendra was the first Anandian to obtain M.Sc qualification in archtecture in 1975. He began his career in architecture with Ganesan & Kumarasuriar, Chartered Architects, and moved on to the firm of Panditharatne & Adithiya, the Department of Buildings and the State Engineering Corporation.  From 1979 to 2000 he was with Engineering Consultants Limited, being Chairman of the company from 1999.  He joined his wife in their own practice in 2000, earlier styled The Amendra Partnership and subsequently as Sun Consultants.

He has been heavily involved in the architectural aspect of Ananda College by contributing to the designs of the library, workshops, pavilion and score-board. He initiated design on the swimming pool. Many of his sketches of these buildings and a view of the entire school premises appeared in the Special issue of ‘Anandaya’. of 06-12-1978 published to commemorate the opening of the Kularatne Hall.  These buildings were a few of the vast array of architectural works he was involved with. These included the ten-storey Torrington Secretariat housing the Ministry of Public Administration, the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) at Reid Avenue and International Airport works while at Engineering Consultants.

His professional experience included many large development projects such as airports, hospitals, industrial complexes, offices, banks, museums, prisons, schools, universities, sports complexes, hotels and housing for both public and private sector clients, local and overseas.

He was external lecturer and examiner at the schools of architecture of the University and the Institute.  He played tennis, badminton and table-tennis, and captained the Ananda College tennis team. He was a member of many social clubs such as WLNPS, AAC, Otters, SSC and Orient Clubs.

His untimely demise in October 2003 created a vacuum in the profession of architecture and Sri Lanka lost a talented architect and a gentleman.

Ranjan Gopallawa commenced his architectural carrier in 1977 following graduation from the Faculty of Architecture at University of Moratuwa. He obtained the Corporate membership of   the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects in  1981.

Following working as architect in the private sector, both in Sri Lanka and overseas, he commenced his own architectural consultancy              practice, in the name and style of  ‘Ranjan Gopallawa – Chartered    Architect’ in June 1999.

He has been a Visiting Lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Moratuwa  and an external examiner at the City School of Architecture of the SLIA.  In 2010, accepting an invitation from  M/s  Larsen A & C  in Oman,  he  served as  member of the Peer Review Panel of the two International Airport Projects at Sultanate of Oman.

 Ranjan has been involved in Ananda College activities for a considerable period of time and he was the Honorary Architectural Consultant for the following  building projects:-  Swimming Pool  and the Training Pool projects, OBA  Lounge & Cafeteria Building and the  Primary School Classrooms

He has been an active member of the Old Hostellers Guild where he has been holding the post of  Secretary for the last 12 years.

Jayantha Perera entered the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Moratuwa in 1972. During his university years he was adjudged the Best Post Graduate Student. He also held the post of President of the Architecture Students’ Association.

His professional carrier has been manly in the private sector in Sri Lanka with short stints of work overseas in Nigeria and Oman. He has been an academic for a short period of time at the University of Moratuwa and at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Over two decades of his practice has been with Consortium Limited. During this period he was responsible for the winning of the SLIA design award for the “Deer Park resort” Giritale Sri Lanka which subsequently received the prestigious Green Globe award. At present he is the Principal Architect of his own practice “Architect Jayantha Perera”

Jayantha was the President of SLIA (2007 to 2009).  He was the Chairman of the Committee on Architectural Education of the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA)  -  and is the current Deputy Chairman of Zone A – of ARCASIA. He also holds the position Chairman of South Asian Association of Architects (SAARCH) for the period 2009-2010.

During the post Tsunami period he served as the chairman of the AFSTV (Architects fund to Shelter Tsunami Victims) a fund raised by the SLIA to build houses for Tsunami Victims in Sri Lanka.

He  has Represented the SLIA in several Government organizations which include; Board Member Institute of Construction Training and Development, Planning Committee Member Urban Development Authority, Committee Member University Grants Commission on Architecture and Engineering Education and Faculty Board Member of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. He is also one of the founder vice presidents of the Old Anandian Architects Guild.


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