The first attempt to form an Institute of Architects was
made in 1948 with Archt. Herbert Gonsal as the prime mover.
Due to disagreement on some issues, the matter was not
pursued at that time. Further attempts were made in 1951 and
1954 by Archt. Wynne-Jones with Herbert Gonsal as the chief
proponent. A number of meetings were
held to work out a constitution and
in 1956 the Ceylon Institute of Architects (CIA) was
established by a small group of overseas qualified
Architects, who also had membership of the Royal Institute
of British Architects (RIBA). The Inaugural meeting was held
on 11th September 1957 at the Tea Propaganda Board, Price
Building, Prince Street, Fort, Colombo. Twelve Architects
participated at the Inaugural meeting of the CIA. Among
them, Oliver Weerasinghe, T. N. Wynne-Jones , Herbert E.
Gonsal and G. B. Altham were elected as the first Fellow
Members of the CIA. The others who participated at the
Inaugural meeting were elected the first Associate Members
of the CIA, namely, H. J. Billimoria , Ronald de Kretser ,
S. A. David , Justin Samarasekera , Visva Selveratnam ,
0.S. Candaval , P. N. Wijesinghe , and Wilson Peiris . The
signatures of those who attended this inaugural meeting can
still be seen in the Attendance Register. W. B. Claesen,
Neville Gunaratne, J. C. Nilgiria, A. Panditharatne, S. H.
Peiris did not attend the inaugural meeting even though they
had obtained membership of the Institute. As Archt.Oliver
Weerasinghe was due to take up an assignment in the United
Nations in a few months, Wynne-Jones requested him to take
the Chair and become the first President of the CIA.
The dedicated founder members, all of whom were senior
members of the Architectural profession in Ceylon, were
later elected as fellows of the Ceylon Institute of
Architects. They were Messrs Oliver Weerasinghe, T. N.
Wynne-Jones, G. B. Altham, H.J. Billimoria, W. B. Claesen,
Herbert E. Gonsal, Neville Gunaratne, J. C. Nilgiria, A.
Panditharatne, P. H. Wilson Peiris, S. H. Peiris and Justin
Samarasekera. Having adopted a constitution, which followed
that of the British Institute, the intention of the CIA was
to obtain the status of an allied society of the RIBA. They
achieved this in 1960, by which time the membership of The
Ceylon Institute of Architects had risen to 30. The CIA
received the encouragement of the then President of the RIBA,
Sir Basil Spence and the considerable assistance of C. D.
Spragg the then Secretary of the RIBA. In recognition of
this assistance Mr. Spragg was later elected by the CIA as
its first Honorary Fellow. Due to the hard work of these
founder members of the Institute, a School of Architecture
attached to the Institute of Practical Technology, Katubedda
was establish in 1961.
In 1976, through a private member’s motion by the then
Minister of Housing and Construction, the Hon. Pieter
Keuneman, the Ceylon Institute of Architects was
incorporated as the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA)
by an Act of Parliament, called Sri Lanka Institute of
Architects Law No.1 of 1976.
Incorporation and New Responsibilities
After Incorporation, the Institute was called upon to
perform important public duties and to take responsibility
for the education and examination of architects for the
purpose of providing a professional qualification. In order
to improve the services offered to the members and public,
the Institute established a permanent office at the premises
of the SLAAS Building in April 1978. Since then, the
Institute has adopted Standing Orders, and a Code of
Conduct, and has established a Board of Architectural
Education to serve its members, the General Public and the
construction industry of Sri Lanka.
A long overdue amendment to the SLIA Law was presented to
Parliament in 1996 by the then Minister of Urban
Development, Housing and Public Utilities, Hon. Nimal
Siripala De Silva. The SLIA is grateful to the late Hon.
Pieter Keuneman and Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva for the
kind assistance extended to further the architectural
profession in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (Amendment) Law No. 14
of 1996 vested power in the Institute to form an “Architects
Registration Board”. With the formation of this Board in
February 1997 all those who practice the profession of
architecture in Sri Lanka are required to register under
three categories namely “Chartered Architects”,
“Architects”, and “Architectural Licentiates’.
The CIA office and SLIA office carried on its operations
from the private office or residence of the Hony. Secretary
until April 1978 when the SLIA office was shifted to the
small room in the Sri Lanka Association for Advancement of
Science (SLAAS) building at 120/10, Wijerama Mawatha,
Colombo 07. This was due to the fact that, twenty perches of
land adjoining SLAAS given on lease by the Government to the
SLIA, was handed over to SLAAS to build their Head office on
a total of 40 perches in 1976 as the SLIA did not have funds
to build premises of their own at that time.
In 1982, SLIA council decided to have their own building. A
Competition was conducted for the building on a site at
Kotte in the year 1984 and Prof. Lakshman Alwis won the
competition. However, after carrying out the soil testing,
this site was abandoned and Prof. Lakshman Alwis was
requested to do another design for the new site at 120/7,
Vidya Mawatha, Colombo 07, where the present SLIA head
office is located.
Prof. Alwis provided Professional services to the head
office building free of charge through his office-M/s Design
Consortium Limited. The construction of the building was
Started by Archt. Mihindu Keerthiratne,President SLIA during
the 1991/92 Session. However, construction work of the
building went at a slow pace from 1993-1996. In March 1997,
then President of SLIA, Archt. V. N. C. Gunasekara shifted
the SLIA office to this new semi-finished building and
completed all works by 1998. The SLIA Head Office now
provides the following facilities to its Members:
A significant development in the history of the Institute
was the expansion of the Annual Sessions to include a trade
and Members' work exhibition, the first of such events was
organized by Archt. Gemunu Fernando in 1983 when Archt. Plnr.
Surath Wickramasinghe was the President. It has grown over
the years to be a much looked-forward item at a national
Lecture Rooms - City School of Architecture
At Ground Floor
Library, Offices of BAE, PAB, BOM, ARB, BAP and a Committee
Room and a Members' Lounge
SLIA Secretariat, Council Chamber and Committee Rooms.
At Second Floor
City School of Architecture
At Third Floor