Sri Lankan architect wins prestigious American Institute of Architects Award
December 02, 2019 – Architect Russell Dandeniya has been awarded one of the most prestigious International Awards in Architecture from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) International Region. This is the first time a Sri Lankan Architect has received such an Award, receiving international recognition for its highest award category of “Honour Award for Open International Architecture 2019”.
Dandeniya said, “We are indeed honoured and humbled to receive this international recognition. It is also an achievement and recognition of the standard of Sri Lankan education to conceptualise and produce work of international standard. This is an opportunity to share the lessons learned by our team from this unique project giving priority to sustainable practices and development, design functionality according to the needs of the clients, overcoming challenges faced due to various complexities by producing inventive architectural solutions.”
This award gives global recognition to the Sri Lankan Architects’ ability to produce International level architectural solutions. Sri Lankan architecture, intellectualism and soul of real local architectural character have been recognised highly by the American Institute of Architects International Region Award Jury panel. They recognised the pioneering effort developing an inventive architectural solution to this specific highly complex site with unique socioeconomic, functional, contextual issues and the building as a simple, straightforward architectural solution. The jury decided to award the highest category of a Special Award recognising the same, and offered “AIA Sustainable Future Award for Architecture 2019” also to this specific project.
The Jury conferred the award with the following citation: “The jury found this a unique solution for the design of an office building in a complex site facing many construction challenges. The design concept provides a solution that emigrate a modern Architectural vocabulary into a more open accrual context. The jury was impressed in the building’s elegant simplicity and ability to grow and expand in a straightforward manner preserving the integrity of the solution.”
This AIA International Award Ceremony was concluded in Shanghai recently.
The office building, designed for JIFFY Products SL Ltd., an exporter of plant propagation and growing media, to expand their factory on the site’s sloping terrain, retaining the flat land for future expansion of production buildings was an interesting architectural task in a highly industrial environment in the Mirigama Export Processing Zone. The steep slope of the site, almost impossible to build on, had to be protected with fair-faced RCC part-retaining wall with projections of plinth beams. This was the only in-situ element of structure; the balance was assembled on-site within a very short period of six months. Solar power, rainwater harvesting, zero waste of materials, LED Lighting and VRV AC System. The re-usability and the ability to dismantle and re-assemble the entire structure and most of the finishes are the sustainable features of the project. The construction grid was precise from design to construction and critical to avoid cutting and wasting of steel, glass, roofing sheets and even toilet tiles. Virtually zero waste on cutting edges of steel and other materials used was the key design task proposed by the architect to meet the budgetary constraints. The project’s ultimate success with an architecturally rich, functionally efficient, office building enhancing the corporate image of the company.
Except the foundation and retaining walls, the entire structure can be reused, and the building orientation along the East- West axis ensuring optimum daylight. This building can be categorised as a “Blue Efficient Building” as opposed to a typical green building.
Russell Dandeniya is a Fellow Member of Sri Lanka Institute of Architects; SLIA and International Associate Member of American Institute of Architects, IAAIA, International Associate Member of Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. He studied at Rahula College, Matara and is a product of University of Moratuwa and is the Principal Architect and the Director of RDC Architects Ltd. He is a visiting Lecturer at University of Moratuwa, University of Kelaniya and City School of Architecture.
He has won numerous awards in the past: The Best Personalised House of the year in 2008 by SLIA, The Young Architect of the year 2009 by SLIA , Rotary International Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) Award for the Schools Reawakening Project in Akkaraipattu in 2008 after the tsunami, The Best CSR Project in SL by Japanese Sri Lanka Technical and Cultural Association (JASTECA) Awards 2018, Best Sustainable Project in Sri Lanka Award by JASTECA 2018, Merit Award in Excellence in Architecture in 2018 for Best Office Building in Sri Lanka, etc. are some of them.