Celebration Of The First World Landscape Architecture Month In 2007

In 2007, April was declared the Annual World Landscape Architecture Month by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), and the Committee for the Establishment of SLILA, with a stupendous effort and the generous support of sponsors despite the extremely short notice they were given, managed to organize a seminar to celebrate it within six weeks! At one stage, almost the entire Environment & Landscape Division of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) was mobilized for this, with willing assistance from Landscape Architect/Plnr. K. A. D. Chandradasa, Director, Eastern Province, UDA and Landscape Architect/Plnr. Radha de Silva, Director, Southern Province, UDA, notwithstanding their already heavy workloads.

The seminar was entitled “Landscape Architecture for Sustainable Development” and it was held on Saturday 28th April 2007 at The Eagle, Waters Edge, a spacious hall overlooking the pleasant verdure of the golf course. Asia Pacific Golf Courses Ltd. was the main sponsor, completely waiving the charges for the hall and refreshments for the full-day event involving a crowd of around 140 persons.

The occasion was graced by Dr. P. Ramanujam, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development, as the Chief Guest, since the Honorable Minister was not able to accommodate the date in his hectic schedule at the time.

Radha de Silva warmly greeted everyone in her welcome speech and Hester Basnayake, Landscape Architect and Director, Environment & Landscape, UDA, delivered the keynote address: “The Role of Landscape Architecture in Sustainable Development in Sri Lanka”, stressing the wide spectrum of tasks urgently needing professional landscape architects. Next, Dr. Ramanujam made a brief speech on behalf of the Minister, adding an impromptu and very encouraging talk of his own just before tea.

The morning session began at around 10.30 a.m., chaired by Professor Willie Mendis, Senior Professor in the Department of Town & Country Planning at the University of Moratuwa – the person who facilitated the training of selected UDA staff in landscape architecture at postgraduate level at the University.

Architect D.P. Chandrasekera spoke on” Sri Lanka’s Traditional Landscape Principles in Today’s Context”, keeping everyone spellbound, and Landscape Architect/Chartered Architect Shereen Amendra then gave an enlightening lecture on “Energy, Synergy & Landscape Architecture”. The last talk of the session was by Hester Basnayake, who denounced “Our Unhealthy Urban Landscapes” and called for dedication by landscape architects to rectify the situation. There was a short but lively discussion before lunch, the latter being quite sumptuous.

The afternoon session was chaired by Dr. Siril Wijesundera, Director General, National Botanic Gardens, Sri Lanka. Shereen Amendra, experienced and skilled teacher that she is, delivered another very informative lecture, this time on “Sustainable Landscape – Materials and Methods”. A more informal presentation by Archt. Channa Daswatta on “Creating Outdoor Places”, enhanced by numerous pictures of excellent “Places”, many of them designed by him, brought a different note to the proceedings. Dr. S.P. Nissanka, Head, Crop Science Department, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya,  spoke on “Landscape Horticulture for Sri Lanka” and Landscape Architect Chandana Kalupahana made a well-illustrated presentation on “Landscape Design in Wetland Conservation”. The final discussion was again sprightly and even explored the realm of our agricultural landscapes and their sustainability.

Plnr./Landscape Architect Dayananda Hettiarachchi gave the Vote of Thanks and it was gratifying to note that most of the guests and participants were still there for tea at the end of the day!