By Aysha Maryam Cassim
The Geoffrey Bawa Award seeks to recognise the buildings constructed in Sri Lanka that may similarly inspire and lift the spirits of the people of this country and outside while raising awareness and appreciation for good architecture and design.
The fifth cycle of the Geoffrey Bawa Award for Excellence in Architecture which coincides with the centenary of Geoffrey Bawa’s birth will serve as a tribute to the legend whose work has inspired generations Sri Lankan and Asian architects to be confident in addressing the contemporary issues of architecture through ideas rooted in indigenous culture and lifestyle of a place – a hallmark of Bawa’s practice.
The official briefing of the awards was held on 22 July at the reconstructed de Saram House on Ward Place, Colombo 7 by a panel of eminent individuals.
Calling all architects and non-architects
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.
“We encourage submissions of the broadest possible architectural designs. There are no fixed criteria as to the size, type, nature or location of the structure. It could be a major housing project, a modest community centre or even a way-side bus stop which gives shelter to the passers-by. As long as the design meets the standards, anyone is eligible to apply,” said renowned architect and a close confidant of Bawa, Channa Daswatte, while inviting architects and non-architects to become a part of this conversation.
The variety of projects that made the shortlist in the last four cycles saw a great deal of innovative thinking which would have pleased Geoffrey Bawa himself. Continuing the tradition, the fifth cycle of Bawa awards hopes to set new standards in the field of architects in Sri Lanka by garnering greater recognition of the exceptional work by emerging architects.
“Over the years we have had young, old and trailblazing architects of the country who were recipients of the Geoffrey Bawa Award. We look forward to seeing burgeoning young talent this year,” said Suhanya Raffel, Trustee of the Geoffrey Bawa Trust and the Lunuganga Trust, Sri Lanka.
The Judges for the 2019-2020 cycle of awards will be 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 and Member of Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka).
The multidisciplinary team of Judges will travel across the country, bringing their perspectives into the debate, based on their personal preferences and what they experience in the space. The shortlisted entries will then go through a technical review that will be assessed for practical elements such as disability access and other legal requirements.
Projects built in Sri Lanka during the 10-year period between 23 July 2009 and 23 July 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.
Applications will be opened to contenders for the fifth cycle of the Awards from 25th August 2019 onwards on www.geoffreybawa.com. Submissions must be on the prescribed form available on the Geoffrey Bawa website. The closing date for entries is 30 November 2019.
The final call
The winner of the fifth cycle will be announced at a gala ceremony that celebrates the winners and their work, to be held on 23 July 2020, to coincide with Geoffrey Bawa’s 101st birth anniversary. The winner will be awarded a sum of Rs. 1 million, as in previous years.