A few days ago, some good friends of ours, Milinda Pathiraja and Ganga Ratnayake of Robust Architecture Workshop, have been awarded the Silver Award at the 2015 Global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction.
Given the value of the building and the quality of the architects, a remarkable news: excellent work gains recognition. A fact that fosters the hope and energy in all those involved with appropriate, challenging architecture.
In addition, a further demonstration that great production takes place everywhere, no matter the difficulties [or probably because of them].
The building is a brilliant example of what is achievable when sound principles are combined with thorough knowledge of conditions and context: the specific circumstances of the project, built for and with military forces, are extraordinary and symbolic at the same time, stemming from the recent history of a country that has been theatre of a civil war for more than twenty years and is now recovering, somehow.
The most relevant aspect of the project is the peculiar relationship between technology, program and site morphology. This relationship is both exact and logic.
Technology is not applied to the architectural idea, it is substantially related to it and to the reality of production. At the same time, the complexity of the site is not a constraint but a challenge to be taken.
A result that is not occasional but comes out a long lasting commitment to research: in 2013 the PhD Thesis [The idea of 'Robust technology' in the definition of a 'third-world' practice: Architecture, design and labour training] has been awarded the 2011 RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis
In all this, a discordant note: the Gold award has been awarded to a project that does not seem to be at the same level. But this is another story.