Fifth cycle of Geoffrey Bawa Award for excellence in Architecture launched

The fifth cycle of the Geoffrey Bawa Award for excellence in Architecture was launched at the reconstructed de Saram House on Ward Place, Colombo 7.

This year’s Award commemorates the 100th birth anniversary of the illustrious architect. Four cycles of the Awards were held in 2007-08,2010-2011, 2013-2014 and 2016-17.

Applications will be opened to contenders for the fifth cycle of the Awards from 25th August 2019 onwards on Submissions must be on the prescribed form available on the Geoffrey Bawa website from the closing date for entries is 30 November 2019.

The Awards were conceptualised in 2007 to recognise and reward outstanding examples of contemporary Sri Lankan architecture, and celebrate the winners and their work. The first four cycles proved immensely popular and generated wide interest, which prompted many talented architects to vie for the award. The Trustees are confident that this interest will generate an even larger number of entries this year.

The Geoffrey Bawa awards are open to all works of architecture built in Sri Lanka and aim to confer a special status of recognition on the winners. They encourage submission of the broadest possible architectural designs and have no fixed criteria as to the size, type, nature or location of the structures.

Projects built in Sri Lanka during the ten-year period between 23rd July 2009 and 23rdJuly 2019 and used and occupied for no less than nine months, are eligible for submission. Entries not placed in the previous awards cycle can also be re-submitted.

In establishing the Award, the Geoffrey Bawa Trust does not intend to encourage imitation of the work and style of Geoffrey Bawa but instead, seeks to promote new and dynamic methods of meeting challenges in architecture.

The winner of the fifth cycle will be announced at a gala ceremony that celebrates the winners and their work, to be held on 23rd July 2020, to coincide with Geoffrey Bawa’s 101st birth anniversary. The winner will be awarded a sum of one million rupees, as in previous years.

The judges for the 2019-2020 cycle of awards will be Ms. Sunethra Bandaranaike (Trustee Lunuganga Trust), Professor Barry Bergdoll (Meyer Schapiro Professor of art history, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University), Architect Veranjan Kurukulasuriya (President, Sri Lanka Institute of Architects) and Jayantha Dhanapala (Former Diplomat &Member of Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka).

The Geoffrey Bawa Trust was impressed by the response and quality of work submitted at the last four cycles. The variety of projects that made the shortlist were all of a consistently high quality and demonstrated a great deal of innovative thinking which would have pleased Geoffrey Bawa himself.

Several trailblazing architects were recipients of the Geoffrey Bawa Award during the past four cycles of its existence. Thisara Thanapathy was adjudged winner of the Geoffrey Bawa Award 4th Cycle – 2016-2017 for his design of the Spa at Santani, Kandy. Pradeep Kodikara was winner of the Geoffrey Bawa Award 3rd Cycle 2013-2014 for his design of the Kadju House in Tangalle. Winner of the Geoffrey Bawa Award 2nd Cycle2010-2011 was Thisara Thanapathy for his creation, the Sarath Abeyratne House in Colombo 5. Two winners shared the Geoffrey Bawa Award 1st Cycle  2007-2008,  Lalyn Collure for his creation The Boulder Garden Hotel, and Shyamika de Silva for her design of the Nalin Indrasena House.

The Geoffrey Bawa Awards scheme is modelled on the award scheme of the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture inaugurated by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1977, widely acknowledged as having had a significant impact on the architecture of developing countries. Deshamanya Bawa received the Aga Khan’s Special Award for a Lifetime’s Achievement in Architecture in 2001.

About Geoffrey Bawa 

Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa is recognised as being one of the greatest Asian architects of the twentieth century and among the most iconic Sri Lankans of his generation. With his small group of talented assistants and his circle of creative friends and collaborators, he established prototype buildings in newly independent Sri Lanka, in the second half of the last century.

During a career that spanned forty years Bawa designed about thirty hotels in several countries, of which twelve are in Sri Lanka. The Bentota Beach Hotel and Serendib hotels were the first purpose-built hotels on the island and set the standards for the rest to emulate. Both contributed immeasurable to the image of Sri Lanka that was projected to the rest of the world. Many guide books to the island nation include his buildings as “must see” places and rate his hotels among the best on the island.

Through a series of innovative private houses built during the 1960s, Bawa fused modernity with tradition. He also built innovative schools and orphanages, office buildings and factories, religious buildings and universities, and pioneered new ways of studying, working and worshipping in an equatorial monsoon climate. He bequeathed to Sri Lankans the most potent image of their island democracy: the Parliament on an island at Kotte in 1982.


Ms. Sunethra Bandaranaike

Sunethra Bandaranaike is a Trustee of the Lunuganga Trust. She will chair the Board of Judges in the 2019-2020 cycle. She holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics from Oxford University.  She worked as a researcher in the Minority Rights Group and the Overseas Development Institute in the United Kingdom and formerly held the post of Coordinating Secretary to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. She serves as the chairperson at the Sunera Foundation, a charitable organisation established in 2000 which works with differently-abled youth and adults.

Prof. Barry Bergdoll

Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of art history in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. From 2007 to 2013 he served as Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Professor Bergdoll’s broad interests center on modern architectural history, with a particular emphasis on France and Germany since 1750. His interests also include the intersections of architecture and new technologies of representations in the modern period, especially photography and film. 

Archt. Veranjan Kurukulasuriya, FIA (SL)

Veranjan Kurukulasuriyais President of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects and Chairman of the City School of Architecture. He is a former Board Member of the Urban Development Authority and the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation & Development Corporation. He has more than 35 years of professional experience in the public sector as an architect and planner.

Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala

Jayantha Dhanapala is a former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs (1998-2003) and a former Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the USA (1995-7) and to the UN Office in Geneva (1984-87). He serves as a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and was a governing board member of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Dhanapala is also a distinguished member of the Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka. He was the 11th President of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and member of several other advisory boards of international bodies.


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