Buildings as Issues and stories: The work of South Asian architect Minette De Silva

Seminar Bachelor ab 3. FS; Master ab 1. FS 2 SWS | 3 ECTS

Lehrende: Dr. Dulmini Perera

When a building is a negotiation of issues resulting from competing values belonging to multiple stakeholders when the story of a building is not one but multiple, how can we learn about such building histories? How may the possibilities of existing digital technologies be used within this endeavour? This semester we will look into the less known work of Sri Lankan architect Minette De Silva to collectively experiment with ways of learning global building histories through storytelling.

De silva was the first South Asian female architect to become an associate of the RIBA and participate in the CIAM meetings. De Silva studied architecture in Bombay, briefly worked in India for German architect Otto Koenigsberger, completed her architectural studies at the Architectural Association (London), established her regional practice in Kandy (Sri Lanka) in 1947 and later taught in Hong Kong. Working globally, she engaged in a lifelong quest to negotiate the complex questions of 'difference' as it appears in post-colonial Sri Lankan architecture, riddled with contradictions related to the latent colonial mentality that valorized progressive modernity and the nation's desire to reclaim a pre-modern tradition. While her work occupies a place in the many narratives of post-colonialism, tropical modernism, and gender, what is most interesting about her practice, is her way of negotiating between different stories and value systems that were in friction. As we explore her buildings as multiple stories, we will immerse ourselves in the building histories, learn about complex forms of causal relations, and discover the role and importance of agency and choice. 

By participating in this seminar, you will get an opportunity to:

•       Gain a better idea of South Asian architect Minette De Silva, the history of post-colonialism in South Asia, and the entanglements of these stories in the European history of modernism.

•       Become a part of the first project to translate some of De Silva’s ideas to a German-speaking audience. 

•       Work as a team to develop a new learning prototype together and discuss your ideas with experts and peers from other contexts (Sri Lanka).

•       Explore the relationship between buildings and stories and connects these reflections to questions of architectural practice

You can enrol in the seminar via Bison; if you have difficulties registering online or have questions about this seminar contact

Course format and assignments:

The project will consist of seminar sessions to explore the theoretical framework and more hands-on activities to translate these ideas into a set of story-based interactive systems. The projects developed in the seminar will be graded by the end of the semester. 


A list of readings and other media sources will be available on Moodle


A short introduction to the project and the format of the seminar will take place on Tuesday 18.10.2022 online at 11 am. All interested are invited to join the introduction via the following link:

Time:    Monday, 11am
Ort:       G.-Scholl-Str. 8, R. 002