Ena De Silva House

When I was in Sri Lanka earlier this year I had the great pleasure of being part of a team that worked on measuring and recording one of Geoffrey Bawa’s most important early works, the Ena De Silva House. This remarkable building was the result of creative relationship between Ena and Geoffrey that resulted in design of a radical house that is calmly influenced by such diverse strains as 20th Century modernism, Sri Lankin Buddhist courtyards, tropical regionalism and perhaps most surprisingly architecture from the Italian Renaissance. For a more scholarly discussion on the importance of the building I draw your attention to ArchNet.

I was in charge of constructing the 3d Computer model which can be seen in the series of slides above.  The land under the house was sold earlier this year and the surrounds of the house have changed dramatically over the past 40 years since its construction so the open airy design is no long so appropriate for the cluttered and smoggy centre of Colombo. After much debate and discussion it has been formally agreed the building is to be entirely archived, reconstructed and rebuilt at another location down the coast.  It was quite a unique experience to see so many great Sri Lankin architects and institutions put their minds to this complex and somewhat political task. It is a rich and warm building that deserves all the praise it gets.

As it seemed to be the case with Geoffery he reasons for innovation were quite sensible, when discussing this building with Channa Daswatte in 1997, (Channa introduced me to the project) he said “I remember talking to Ena, seeing her surrounded by all the things she liked. All she wanted was brick walls’ and a roof. The plan came about largely because she, and consequently I, wanted a private compound that would not be overlooked by the neighbours.”


As part of the Studio I was recently part of, we went for an amazing trip up to near the Botswana and Zimbabwe borders with South Africa.  This stunning almost finished Museum is being constructed to store many of the ancient artifacts found on a nearby hillside where there was a flourishing civilisation for a few hundred years.    I’ll put up more photos of the landscape soon, but for now here is the remarkabe building by Architect Peter Rich, with engineering by Michael Ramage at MIT, and Ann Fitchett at Wits University.  The dramatic structure is a very rare use of an old method called Timbrel Vaulting, which is characterised by the remarkable fact that it can be built incrementaly so does not require expensive formwork.

For Sure!

norightturn had a great post explaining the recent news about the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Without permission I’ve copied and pasted below, but visit the site above for more lucid writing such as this.

Yesterday’s release of the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act [PDF], with its recommendation that the Act be scrapped and that the government work towards a settlement with iwi and hapu, has caused predictable outrage on the right. Down in the sewer, National’s carefully cultivated following of rednecks is going feral, while in the comments on Colin Espiner’s blog, the ignorance has reached toxic levels, with claims of racism, threats of race war, and the usual allegations of cannibalism forming a poisonous brew of Pakeha entitlement. In the process of course the actual facts underlying the foreshore and seabed debate are completely ignored. What follows is an (almost certainly futile) attempt to reintroduce them.

Firstly, and most importantly: this is not about race, it is about property rights. And those property rights are not “race-based” except in an accidental sense that the rightsholders happen to be M?ori; they are the same damn property rights that everyone else has. The best analogy is to think of it this way: you own a house, and so your descendents or appointed heirs and successors continue to own it unless either someone sells it or the government legislates those rights away. And that is exactly what is going on with the foreshore and seabed.

Continue reading For Sure!

350 three fifty 350 three fifty 350 three fifty

Remember this number.   Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. We are currently at 390 and rising.  The Copenhagen meeting in October this year is the last realistic change to control this growth.  It is been called ‘The most important meeting in human history.’ There is an organisation called 350 that has started campaigning on this simple message.

The International Website is:  www.350.org

The new New Zealand site is:  http://www.350.org.nz/ and the government has just opened a small window to make submissions, go to http://www.climatechange.govt.nz/survey/x09nz2020register.htm to register.