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Malinda’s work on “The Architect” Magazine

liyomark - May 26, 2016 - 0 comments

Archt. Malinda in The Architect Magazine was showcased in 2016 April-June Edition. He speaks about his past and how he entered to the field of Architecture.

Q: What inspired you to choose architecture, and what are the events and avocations that led to it?

A: Architecture is an art. When I chose this field, l’didn’t know its depth or what it was. My family’s desire was to see me become a doctor and, therefore, they urged me to select a stream of subjects accordingly. Since I had obtained good results at the GCE O-Level examination. Yet, from my younger days, I had the skill for drawing. I used to go to Mr. Siri Kumarasinghe to learn to paint and my dream was to go to ‘Haywood’ (now University of Visual and Performing Arts) to be an artist.

When it came to the GCE A-Levels, I chose the bioscience stream in order to go to medical college. I didn’t get good results at my first shy because I didn’t put in much effort. But the second time I passed well and was selected for university entrance. At that time, my friends were preparing to take the aptitude test for architecture. I was not interested because I was focussed on getting into medical college. However, I listed architecture also as the last choice and got called to sit for the aptitude test. It was only when I went to the exam hall at the University of Moratuwa that I realised that I had forgotten to bring my admission card with me. Due to this reason, the university did not allow me to take the exam. This incident upset me, but also made me determined to pursue the subject.

I sat my A-Level exam for a third time, but this time with architecture as my career goal. Then, I began researching on architectute- and I began to realise what an interesting subject it is. I became fascinated by architects and knew that becoming one would be a fare opportunity.

The aptitude test for architecture was considered as being one that is difficult to pass. I sat for the aptitude test (this time I remembered my admission card) and finished the paper early. I was seated in the exam hall staring at my sketches when the invigilator, Architect Ranjith Alahakoon, walked past me and turned back when he saw my sketches. He looked at them, spoke to me for a few minutes and asked me if I was sure I wanted to be an architect, to which the answer was a definite ‘yes!’ He then congratulated me and kept walking. This was an encouraging sign; and I felt optimistic about a good result.

Q: What were your experiences as a student and an architectural apprentice?

A: My initial designs in the first and second years at the University of Moratuwa were placed first and my first year designs were published in the Architecture Journal of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA). During my university years, I believe that I followed the wrong course of action by getting involved in ragging issues. As a result, I wasted the time I had and did not focus on my studies. I was overconfident and at the final examination of my BSc Degree, I failed Design – the subject I thought I was good at. Consequently, I failed my BSc and lost the opportunity of passing out with the rest of my batchmates. I was disappointed in myself, but in retrospect, this failure is one of the best things that happened to me because it killed my ego.

I began working on my studies again, determined not to fail this time around. I was tutored by Architect Madura Premathilake- one of the best teachers I have met – and Architects Vijitha Basnayake and Prasanna Liyanage. During some of the crucial presentation reviews at the university, I also met Architects Murad Ismail and Channa Daswatte who praised my work.

Following the BSc, I got an opportunity to intern at Geoffrey Bawa Associates in 1999, where Ismail and Daswatte were directors. This was the chance of a litetime for me because I have always had immense respect tor M. Bawa and his work. By the time I joined, he was paralysed and could not work, but it was a great honour even to see him and be exposed to the projects that were initiated by him.

Winning the Student Travel Award presented by the Geoffrey Bawa Trust in 2000 gave me the opportunity to explore India in all her glory for 45 days. I was mesmerised by the Red Fort in Jaipur and that experience has had a lasting impact on my career.

Archt. Malinda in The Architect Magazine

Immediately after my visit to India, I started reading for my Master’s Degree, which I failed at the first attempt because I was, once again, overestimating myself. I also failed my Part II (Charter) exam the first time. There was a delay in my career taking off due to these failures. However, in hindsight, I know that it is due to these setbacks that I have been able to stay strong and face any challenge that comes my way.

Q: Who are the architects who have inspired you?

A: We all have mentors and people we consider our heroes. Mine are architects Geoffrey Bawa, Vijitha Basnayake, Ranjith Alahakoon, Channa Daswatte, Murad Ismail and Milinda Pathiraja. As for international inspiration, I admire the work of Architects Luis Barragan, Ricardo Legorreta, Renzo Piano and Tadao Ando. Working as the resident architect on Ando’s project in Mirissa was also a milestone in my career.

Q: What is your design philosophy? And what were your career experiences as an architect?

A: At Geoffrey Bawa Associates, I always took up components in projects that were considered challenges and worked hard to overcome them. Then, as the resident architect in Pierre Pringiers’ house which was designed by Architect Tadao Ando in Mirissa, I observed and explored all the steps in the process, including the masonry work. This helped me absorb details about Ando’s architecture and techniques.

After working briefly at Architect Muditha Jayakody’s office, I rejoined Ismail and Daswatte at MICD Associates. We were working on a project for Oberoi Hotels (part of the World Islands of Dubai) when the industry took a downturn due to the recession. Everyone lost their jobs.

Malinda in The Architect Magazine

But had I not lost my job, I would have never started a private practice, since I do not take any private commissions when working for others. My first project Was to design a house in Negombo. Though it was a small project, it was the one that set off my practice. As my private practice progressed, I also took up project management following a request by Ismail, where I worked on a number of buildings as the Project Manager.

Why Malinda in The Architect Magazine, is very well elaborated. Hope it helps someone who’s to be an architect.

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