Archt M M G Samuel is an award winning Chartered Architect and a Fellow Member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects. Among the numerous awards won are the Geoffery Bawa Award for the Best Comprehensive Design and Technology Report in M Sc (Architecture); several SLIA Design and Colour Awards; joint winner of SLIA House of the Year (2008) and he is also a short-listed candidate for the inaugural Geoffery Bawa Design Award. Archt M M G Samuel shares some of his views on his journey and architecture.

By Kasuni Dayananda

What inspired you to become an architect? 

As a child, during school days I used to admire buildings and I enjoyed drawing and entering art competitions. Interest in becoming an architect manifested when I helped an architecture student studying at the university with his drawing assignments.

My parents’ sacrifices made
for my siblings and me had a lasting impact, and the discipline my school principal Mr R I T Allas inculcated in me shaped me into who I am today.

Is there anything in your life/experience which in any way relates to how you create architecture and vice versa? 

     I gain inspiration from the essence of good architecture created by other architects not only in new architecture but even in particular features of traditional architecture, both local and abroad.

Among your design project which would regard as your best and why? 

I’m greatly enjoying the process of building my own house, [currently under construction] as I have the ability to create and construct exactly what I desire.

Any limitations/challenges you face in creating architecture locally?

I find that problems often arise from limits in technology, knowledge and budget.

Describe the general process you go through to design.

I study the client and project needs from the inception and mold it into my design principle. I think along a simplistic precept, avoiding unnecessary complications.

What’s your favorite part about conceptualising a design?

I enjoy envisioning how people would perceive and appreciate my design.

Brief description of your architectural practice.

My practice, MMGS Architects is based as an architectural company, and we outsource consultants for other related services. Currently we encompass a crew of five Chartered Architects, six architecture students and supporting staff. We have done a number of houses and projects for organisations such as HNB, USAID, AUSAID, UNICEF, Ladies’ College, the Anglican Diocese of Colombo, Sarvodhaya, Stassens Exports, Cargills and a number of other NGO’s and INGO’s. We enjoy each project we do and give the best to our clients.

In your opinion, what are the attributes needed to become a successful architect?

Honesty and hard work.
One should enjoy your own creation.

What have been the rewards of practicing architecture?

When clients and end users appreciate the work we have done, and of course the recognition received by winning design awards.

What are your experiences and contributions to the SLIA.

I have served in Council for over six years, serving as student councilor from inception (since 1999). Also, helping as an examiner and in addition I served in different boards for many years.

What do you believe is the future for architecture in Sri Lanka? Are there any changes you would like to see in the profession?

Sri Lanka may not produce technically advanced architecture, but it will produce simple, creative architecture within the available resources and will be foremost in terms of producing architecture in this region. Despite being a small community of architects, we Sri Lankans have produced better architecture than those of neighbouring countries, creating a unique Sri Lankan style which is not ostentatious, but simple and elegant.