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Minnette De Silva: ‘Asian Woman Architect’

Minnette De Silva

Asia House: Architecture Asia Series

18.45 – 20.15 Talk and Q & A

20.15 – 20:45 Drinks reception

Minnette De Silva  (1 February 1918 – 24 November 1998) was the first female to be trained as an architect in Sri Lanka, formerly independent Ceylon and one of only two women architects who set up practice in their own name in the post-war period. The other was Lina Bo Bardi in Brazil.

De Silva was also the first Asian female architect to become an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects based in London. In fact, ‘Asian Woman Architect’ was a phrase that De Silva chose to describe herself in a profession dominated by men and was also the title of the book on her life and work published posthumously just a few weeks after her death in Sri Lanka in 1998.

At this talk, architectural critic Seneka Weeraman and architect Selva Sandrapragas RIBA ARB will give a brief introduction to their own research and practice and explore the life and work of Minnette de Silva and her unique contribution to the development of architectural ideas in the twentieth century. The talk will begin by placing De Silva in the context of colonial and postcolonial Sri Lanka and will go on to explore the ways in which her architectural philosophy developed, who her key influences were, and how she developed her unique critical dialogue with the architectural modernism of the time.


Senaka Weeraman graduated from the Bartlett at UCL and completed a Masters in Urbanism in UPC Barcelona. He is a Young Researcher at the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris where he is researching the letters of Minnette de Silva. He is currently working on social housing architectural projects as well as working with Selva Sandrapagas on some projects in Sri Lanka.

Selva Sandrapragas is currently practicing as architect in the UK and Sri Lanka. He studied Architecture at the Bartlett too, completing his professional studies at the AA (The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London). He has also studied Urban Design as an ADB Scholar at Hong Kong University. He worked with De Silva and subsequently travelled to India on an INTACH scholarship to research the vernacular architecture of Kerala.

This lecture has been organised in association with the Pan Asian Women’s Association.


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November 11, 2016
18:45 - 20:45
Event Category:


Asia House


Asia House
63 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 7LP United Kingdom

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