Weaving the bigger picture

Nikolai Krome, Tomáš Müller

“Weaving the bigger picture” is a game that invites architecture students, design students and others interested in the work of South Asian architect Minnette De Silva to interactively learn about her work through exploring one of her later works built in 1984- the Kandy Arts Centre. We hope that by engaging in narrative building and debating on the plausibility of the narratives, you will be able to immerse yourself in some of the issues she was navigating within the project and be able to do so not only through the evaluation of facts but also through emotion and empathy. It is, after all, about understanding the bigger picture.


Sri Lanka has a history of a 300-year-long period of colonization. Although 1948 is known as the year of independence, it is hard to trace a clear breaking point from the influence of colonialism that had influenced the citizens’ very ways of thinking and ordering the world. The struggles and efforts of De Silva within her practice and her role as a female architect through time suggest in some ways how Sri Lanka’s relation to colonial processes and questions of power changed through time. While the game attempts to bring more awareness about the Kandy Arts Centre project among the wider public, it is also an invitation to explore the broader themes related to her work, such as de-colonialism, environment, community, and gender.  

Two or more people can play the game. The game aims to open a discussion about one of South Asian architect Minnette de Silva’s final built works – the Kandy Arts Centre. We found it very interesting that this project, set apart from her early work through many years, enables a different way of reflecting and making connections about how ideas and practices can change through time. Here are a few themes that we found important  to reflect on when working on the game:

To what extent was Minnette de Silva able to align her values on community, tradition/culture, and village forms with client expectations, and how did that differentiate from previous projects? How did Minnette de Silva create a symbiotic relationship between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern’ in designing a large-scale project such as Kandy Arts Centre, where many other stakeholders were involved in the building process? To what extent does the difference in size (of scale) of the Kandy Arts Centre, compared to most of her previous housing buildings, influence the detailing and execution of the project? How did Minnette de Silva use different materials to their best advantage in the Kandy Arts Centre project? To what extent did her operations within a limited practice(office) setup affect her work?

We have used these themes in various ways to set up the narratives. By assembling narratives and questioning them in the process, we hope the players will find other ways to explore the significance of these questions