The Geoffrey Bawa Trust has set up a national award scheme to recognise and reward significant examples of contemporary Sri Lankan architecture. The aim of the scheme is both to foster the production of good architecture and to encourage its wider appreciation in the community.
The award scheme has been consciously modelled on the scheme that is run by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva. That scheme is generally acknowledged to have had a very marked effect on architecture in developing countries since it was inaugurated by HRH the Aga Khan in 1977 and has now completed ten of its three-year cycles. The Trust also acknowledges the importance of the honour, which was bestowed upon Deshamaniya Bawa when he received HRH the Aga Kan’s Special Award for a Lifetime’s Achievement in Architecture in 2001.
In establishing the Award it is not the Trust’s intention to encourage young architects to imitate or ape the work of Geoffrey Bawa. Bawa was himself a restless designer who never stood still and never repeated himself. The last thing he ever wanted was for his work to become a static model for others to copy. If he were a young architect starting his career today he would be looking for new solutions to the new problems which we now face. If he were still alive and able to act as one of the judges he would be looking for vital and innovative designs, ideas which fired the imagination and lifted the spirits.
If Geoffrey Bawa were alive today he would be distressed by the increasing congestion of Colombo. But he would be heartened by the number of talented and creative architects who now practise in Sri Lanka. The architects of this small country with its 20 million inhabitants pack a much bigger punch than those of neighbouring countries and their creations sparkle like jewels across the land.
The Trust wishes to promote the idea that good design is important both to the well-being of the people of Sri Lanka and to the image which their country projects to the rest of the world. It hopes that the Award process will raise the ambitions of all those who participate and that it will confer a special status on those who are premiated. It also hopes to initiate a debate about architecture in Sri Lanka and to increase awareness of the importance of the built environment
The award cycle begins on the 23rd of July of the year prior to the year of award with the call for submission of entries of eligible projects. Entries are shortlisted by a panel of Judge consisting of a Trustee as the chair, an architect from outside the country, an architect representative from the Sri Lanka Institute of architects and a person outside of the field of architecture nominated by the Trust. After the shortlist is announced the Judges and /or a technical committee visits all the sites and a final round of judging is done immediately prior to the award date of the 23rd of July in year for which the award is being given.