The book was launched yesterday – titled ‘Anjalendran, Architect of Sri Lanka’ – and for those of you who are interested in architecture and appreciative of the aesthetics involved, it is well worthy of the investment. Authored by David Robson, with photographs by Waruna Gomis, the book is not only a captivating collection of some of Anjalendran’s favourite projects, but is also a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of an architect with a difference.

An excerpt from the inner sleeve of the book: Over the past two decades Anjalendran has established himself as one of Sri Lanka’s leading architects and his work has attracted interest across the entire Indian subcontinent.
His buildings have a simple directness and although totally modern in spirit, they acknowledge the rich traditions of Sri Lanka. Anjalendran’s architecture is about using the simplest of materials to create magic. Whether working with ample budgets or at rock bottom cost (sic), his projects focus on not only creative buildings, but – a la Frank Lloyd Wright – also their landscaping, furniture and decoration.

Java and I have had the good fortune to be associated with Anjalen from the early days of his career when we first worked together on a project in 1982, and from then on a friendship and long working association began through our work with SOS Children’s Villages, which only came to an end in 1987. Always slightly eccentric, but with an unmistakable brilliance, both in his architectural work, as well as with his unerring eye for beauty, Anjalen has always been a collector of works of art – be they paintings, sculpture, photographs, music or anything else that caught his fancy. Traveling with him is an adventure in itself, as he would prepare for the trip by documenting and studying places of historical, cultural or artistic interest and acting as guide, provide intriguing insights into them all. Suffice it to say that on a joint trip to India in the early 1980s, The Dancer and I would never have seen or experienced anything close to what we did if not for Anjalen. And what’s more, there was never a dull moment in his company, as when we were not arguing about something or the other, we would be spending our time together giggling about one thing or another and having lots of fun – his sense of humour being as keen as his other qualities.

An enigma of sorts, Anjalen is not your run-of-the-mill architect. Another extract from the inner sleeve describes this aspect as follows: The process through which he creates his architecture is just as interesting as his architecture itself. During the past twenty-five years Anjalendran has worked from home, never employing more than four student assistants at any one time. He has no office as such, no secretary, no car, no mobile phone. He operates without a bank account and has never signed a contract with either a client or a builder.

Having designed and completed well over one hundred buildings of various sorts, Anjalen is one of the most prolific architects in Sri Lanka and is now well recognized and respected in the region.

To conclude, a final excerpt from the inner sleeve of the book: These same twenty-five years in Sri Lanka have been blighted by a cruel and destructive civil war. Many of his fellow Tamils (sic) have left the island for good, but Anjalendran has stayed on, maintaining always that he is first a Sri Lankan and second a Tamil; that he is, first and foremost, an architect of Sri Lanka.

Buy the book and check it out – it’s surely one of the best books that you will find on Sri Lanka architecture.

The story of the architect is the bonus!

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