Sunday, March 29, 2009

imagining modernity: the architecture of valentine gunasekara (Book #1)

If Geoffrey is the ‘ying’ of Sri Lanka architecture, here is the ‘yang’ for you.
Though both Geoffrey and Valentine had their architectural upbringing firmly rooted in the mid 20th centaury modernism, they have taken different path once upon their return this ‘beautiful’ island. While Geoffrey moved towards a more ‘vernacular / regional’ (a whole topic by itself for another day) style, Valentine decided to stay the dyed in the wool modernist.

This book explores the reasons for such an approach and the resultant work, his professional relationship with Geoffrey and more importantly the socio –cultural background within which all those things happened. It is, in addition to a monograph of Valentine’s work, is almost a critical analysis of the caste and religious dynamics of the early part of post independent Sri Lanka.

But be warned, this is not your usual coffee table architectural book. It can be bit heavy reading at the beginning, but nevertheless a good book. And if you are a student of Sri Lankan architecture it is a must.

Author-Dr. Anoma Pieris

'Londonbaba's' inteviews with Valentine (1-7). Here is the 1st one.


  1. Your comments on both Valentine & Bawa are unfortunately fallacious. They are incomparable. Valentine was searching for a architecture that reflect his egalitarian beliefs and Bawa was designing typical elitist buildings that are removed form majority of the Sri Lankans and did not amount much to Sri Lankan architecture in term of capacity building, empowerment or the betterment of the common construction industry. He was propagating the idyllic lifestyle of the colonial gentry. Here is the challenge; How many Sri Lankans could afford/and or has the life style to suit the buildings designed by Bawa?

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