Milinda Pathiraja is Director, Partner and Co-Founder of Robust Architecture Workshop (RAW) based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He believes in the power of architecture to integrate and contribute to the resolution of social, political, and economic challenges.
He is also an Honorary Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning at the University of Melbourne, Australia and collaborates with the Laboratory of Construction & Architecture (ENAC), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EFFL Lausanne).
He runs Robust Architecture Workshop with Co-Founder Ganga Ratnayake and Kolitha Perera. Major commissions for Robust Architecture Workshop include the Dewahoova Primary School library, Office building in Nugegoda, Workers’ facilities at Puttalam, International Training Center in Kotmale, Community Library in Ambepussa, and Youth Training Center in Mankulam, Sri Lanka.
Milinda Pathiraja completed a Bachelor Science in Built Environment (1997) at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka and a Bachelor of Architecture (2001) at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He then completed his PhD in Architecture at the University of Melbourne (2010), researching the possible role of architecture in developing world regions as facilitators of construction policy. His PhD dissertation was entitled The function of robust technology in the construction of a “third-world” practice: architecture, design and labour-training.
He was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka (2011-16), and a Lecturer (2009-10) and Sessional Tutor (2005-10) in the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning at the University of Melbourne.
His writing on resilient architecture has appeared in Building the Future: Sustainable and Resilient Built Environments (University of Moratuwa, 2016) as well as in journals The Architect, South Asia Journal of Culture, International Journal for Disaster Prevention & Management, and EYES. He has presented his work at conferences in Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
His work was exhibited as one of 88 architects profiled in the international section of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition at Biennale Architettura 2016, he received the Terra Awards for Earthen Constructions (2016) in the category for cultural facilities, and the President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis (2011) from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). He also received the CIOB Australasia Excellent Building Postgraduate (Research) Award (2011); the University of Melbourne Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence (2012); and the Australian Alumni Excellence Award for Education (2014).
He was a panellist at the concluding discussion of the 15th International Architectural Biennale, “Sustainability vs Security”, on November 25, 2016. The panel discussed how growing security concerns add complexity to the challenges to which architecture must respond.
Milinda Pathiraja was a winner of the Global LafargeHolcim Awards Silver 2015 and regional Bronze prize for Asia Pacific in 2014 with “Post-War Collective: Community library and social recuperation in Ambepussa, Sri Lanka”. Made from rammed-earth walls and recycled materials, the building was constructed with the support of the army, teaching young soldiers building techniques and skills through its construction process. The project also received the LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition in 2017 for being implemented and standing the test of time as a particularly successful example of sustainable building.