Colombo Art Biennale 2016 ‘Conceiving Space’

Architects Program 3rd – 11th December – Slave Island

Curated by Director Gihan Karunaratne, RIBA.

CAB2016 is delighted to be launching for the first time, an Architect’s programme. The programme which will run from the 3rd – 11th December will be centred in and around the Slave Island district in Colombo with a strong focus on Community Engagement.

Gihan Karunaratne-01

Gihan Karunaratne

 Director, Architects Programme

Community Engagement

This nine-day programme will see internationally renowned and award winning architects working as artists with the local community with the support of both international and local students and artists. At the end of the programme the collaborations will be showcased in and around the community area, culminating in a ‘Great Feast’ on the last day bringing together 500 members of the local community will be cooking and joined by artists, architects and visitors.

Programme will include:

  • Real time construction of Art/Architecture Installations. A 1:50 scale model of a community centre designed by Prof. Juhani Pallasmaa & Prof. Alberto Foyo will be exhibited at the Slave Island site.
  • A series of creative workshops involving the Slave island community.
  • Educational collaborations with 4 international universities. Students will assist artists in production of their work.
  • A Symposium on practical questions regarding the political, cultural and economic landscape of the current times within which architecture operates.
  • The Great Feast

Architect’s programme participants:

  • Studio Assemble – 2015 Turner Prize Winners (UK)
  • Madelon Vrisendorp – Dutch artist and Co-founder of Office of Metropolitan Architecture (Netherlands)
  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Alex Lehnerer – Chair of Architecture & Urban Design, ETH Zurich
  • Prof.Will Alsop OBE RA – Architect (UK)
  • Auckland University of Technology (AUT) (New Zealand)
  • Unitec Institute of Technology (NEW Zealand)
  • Sheffield Hallam University (UK)
  • University of Hertfordshire (UK)
  • Mullegama Art Project (Sri Lanka)

Supporting Partners

  • Colombo Art Biennale, Sri Lanka
  • British Council, Colombo
  • Goethe-Institut, Colombo
  • Embassy of the Netherlands, Colombo
  • The British High Commission, Colombo





Studio Assemble & Madelon Vrisendorp

A collaborative project in the heart of Slave Island Learning from the techniques and tactics of crafts and material traditions of Sri Lanka, Madelon and Assemble will build on the contemporary make-do- and-mend craft culture that thrives in Slave Island in several small and improvised workshops.

These workshops will see Madelon and Assemble working together with residents, mixing local contemporary oral histories and folklore to create a series of small, animate sculptures, which will populate the rooftops and streets of Slave Islands. This collaborative process between the residents of Slave island Madelon and Assemble, will produce work that will be the first permanent public sculptures for both Madelon Vriesendorp and Studio Assemble.

Studio Assemble                  Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 10.20.20 am

Pritzker Judge Prof. Juhani Pallasmaa

Juhani Pallasmaa (1936), architect, professor emeritus, Academician IAA, has practiced architecture since 1962 and held positions such as Director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, and Professor and Dean of Architecture, Helsinki University of Technology. He has been a visiting professor in several Universities  ofthe USA, teaching and lecturing around the world. His publications include 50 books and 400 essays. He is a Honorary member of SAFA, AIA and RIBA and receiver of Finnish and international awards and five Honorary Doctorates.


Cecil Balmond

Cecil Balmond OBE, is widely considered to be one of the most significant creators of his generation. An internationally renowned artist and engineer, Balmond transcends the conventional boundaries of discipline – working in the crossover between art and science. In this dynamic area, he has re-invented the very concept of space, transforming the meaning of geometry, form and structure. Cecil Balmonmd (Balmond Studio) will design and construct an Art/Architecture Installation in Slave Island for the Architecture element of the Colombo Art biennale.


Ciriacidis Lehnerer Architekten

Ciriacidis Lehnerer Architekten is a Zurich based architectural practice lead by Savvas Ciriacidis and Alex Lehnerer. By understanding architecture as cultural practice, the office works within all scales, from big to small, wide and narrow—from buildings to planning tasks and exhibitions. Further critical discourse is resonating with the work through teaching and research activities—with Alex’ position as assistant professor at ETH Zürich and Savvas’ teaching at Hochschule Luzern. Both have been the commissioners of the German pavilion at the 14. International Architecture Biennial in Venice in 2014. Their projects have been widely published and won several prizes.

Die Züricher Architekten Savvas Ciriacidis und Alex Lehnerer, die Generalkommissare für den deutschen Beitrag für die Architekturbiennale 2014. Foto: David von Becker

Hirante Welandawe

Hirante Welandawe graduated from the University of Moratuwa and obtained her Masters from the Helsinki University of Technology. Welandawe has been in practice from 1994 and  heads H W Architects.

She is a Visiting Design Tutor of the Department of Architecture, University of Moratuwa, has received several Design awards and was nominated for the Aga Khan award for Architecture in 2010.

Welandawe’s interest is in exploring the potential that Architecture offers to enhance the lived experience of the individual and the community.

2b copy

Prof. Will Aslop

Prof. Will Alsop OBE RA is a prominent architect and artist who established aLL Design in 2011. He has been awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize for Peckham Library, London and the first RIBA World Award for The Sharp Centre for Design (OCAD), Toronto, amongst numerous other prestigious accolades for a multitude of projects. His work encompasses all sectors of architecture including urban design and planning. His studio practice also incorporates painting and product design.


Professor Tony Van Raat 

Tony van Raat is an Associate Professor in The Architecture Research Lab at AUT in Auckland. In 2014 and 2016 he was Commissioner of the New Zealand entry to the Venice Architecture Biennale. He is an ex-President of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia, founder of the NZ Architectural Publications Trust and a Fellow and President’s Medalist of the NZIA.


Channa Daswatte

Graduated from the University of Moratuwa in 1987 and subsequently followed a Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture at University College London, 1990, followed by a Master of Architecture at the University of London in 1991. After graduation joined the Architectural Consultancy of Geoffrey Bawa from 1991 to 2003 being made a partner in 1997. Since 1998 has been in Partnership with Murad Ismail in MICD Associates, working on a variety of projects in Sri Lanka, India and Africa. Was recognized for conservation work with an Award of Distinction in the UNESCO Asia-pacific Heritage Awards of 2007 for the Conservation of the Galle Fort Hotel Been a Lecturer and Year Person at the Colombo School of Architecture and a Lecturer at the University of Moratuwa.

Contributing author to many magazine, and books, and author of the books “Sri Lanka Style” with Dominic Sansoni (2006) and “Colonial Furniture in the Geoffrey Bawa Collection (2012). Since 1997 has been a Trustee of the Lunuganga Trust and Geoffrey Bawa Trust and since 2016 been the Chairman of the Galle Heritage Foundation, Lives and works in Madiwela, Sri Lanka.

Channa 2016

Architect symposium

The CAB 2016 Symposium discussion on Art and Architecture seeks to inspire and engage the community for artists, architects and design professional on practical questions regarding the political, cultural and economic landscape of the current times within which architecture operates.

Array of professionals and great thinkers from field of Architecture, Urban design, academia, and Art and design will collaborate, explore and debate current trends in global issues with reference to rapid urbanization, social, political, economic, as well as sustainability. Further, they will speculate the future challenges and opportunities in Asian cites, and the technological and social change in urban living.

Location and Date: Cinnamon Grand, Colombo; 10th of December from 2pm

Symposium themes include:Taking architectural education into the communityMegapolis; Chairs of sessions will be: Studio Assemble and Madelon Vriesendorp, Prof. Tony Van Raat, Hiranthi Welandawe


  • Madelon Vriesendorp (Partner of OMA) (Dutch)
  • Amica Dall (Director of Assemble) (UK)
  • James Binning (Director of Assemble) (UK)
  • James Balmond (Creative Director, Balmond Studio) (Sri Lanka)
  • Hiranthi Welandawe, (SLIA. Architect/Colombo Mega City Project) (Sri Lanka)
  • Krystina Kaza (Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland) (New Zealand)
  • Sandra Oehy (Curator: Swiss pavilion Venice Biennale) (Switzerland) tbc
  • Sony Devabhaktuni (University of Hong Kong) (Hong Kong)
  • Massimo Santanicchia (Iceland Academy of Arts) (Iceland)
  • Eva Sopeoglou (University of Heartfordshire) (UK)
  • Asiri Dissanayake (SLIA architect) (Sri Lanka)
  • Prof. Alberto Foyo (AIA architect)  (US)
  • Prof.Tony van Raat (Auckland University of Technology)