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Imagining Modernity. The Architecture of Valentine Gunasekara – Anoma Pieris

This book is a detailed study of the architecture of Valentine Gunasekara (1931-2017). It provides an innovative lens to understand the formation of a Ceylonese middle-class, which was inspired by the post-independence desire for modernity. Their experiments, values and dynamic social history are the framework for this research.

Although neglected by his peers and marginalized by the prevalent discourse on vernacular regionalism, Gunasekara’s work poses important questions regarding the utopian ideals of the modernist project and its successes and its failures in Asia. More significantly, his work reveals the European and American influences that shaped the first generation of Ceylonese architects and their efforts at adapting new materials and technologies to a very different climate and culture.

This book documents a wide range of Gunasekara’s projects including residential, religious and commercial buildings arguing that they represented a nascent cosmopolitanism from below that proved to be quite antithetical to regionalist trends in architecture.

This e-book is a re-publication of an earlier edition published by Stamford Lake in 2007.





Anoma Pieris is Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at Melbourne University. Her most recent publications include Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: A Penal history of Singapore’s Plural Society (University of Hawaii Press 2009), Sovereignty, Space and Civil War in Sri Lanka (Routledge 2018) and Architecture on the Borderline: Boundary Politics and Built space (Routledge, Architext series 2019)

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