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Minnette De Silva was the first Sri Lankan woman to be trained as an Architect and the first Asian woman to be elected a Memebr of the Royal Instituie of British Architects. She returned to Sri Lanka in 1948 and her experiments in architecture began with the karunaratne House, Kandy. This house still stands as a testimony to the brave family who had faith in Minnette and her ideas.
In 1960 she left Sri Lanka for 5 years and called it her period of self-renewal. She spent this time
travelling in Greece, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and revisited India. After her return to Sri Lanka she was engaged in the design of a series of large tourist hotels. In 1975Minnette went Hong Kong to join the Department of Architecture as the first woman architecture. She left Hong Kong after 5 years and in 1982 Minnette settled down to work on the much-needed "Art Center" in her hometown kandy. She was a feelow of the Sri Lanka Institute in 1977. She passed away in November 1998.
The commision for the project came from friends of her parents, Algy and Letty Karunaratne- A Buddist Sinhalese House. She rose to the challenge and prepared plans for the first building to be designed by a woman architect in sri Lanka and it was complete by October 1950. The site was on the southern hills around the town of Kandy. By planning the house along the slope, each room had an advantageof the view. The House seem to be earved out of the hillsides. The main feature of the living rooms is the spacious feeling within not-so-large an area. The living room overlooks the entrance and they are separated by built up furntiure. People complained that the random rubble masonry stonework looked dirty, they being used to smooth ashlar. She had especially picked it up for its patina. She used local timber to show that they didn't have to import timber from Burma, in a natural state exposing the knots and faults. For the roof trusses, a lattice with small pieces of wood bolted together was used.
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