About the Speaker
Milinda Pathiraja is an Honorary Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning at the University of Melbourne; a Visiting Teaching Fellow attached to the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland; and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.

His particular focus is how the power of architecture can integrate and contribute to the resolution of social, political and economic challenges. He was one of the eighty-eight architects profiled at the international section of the 2016 International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Reporting from the Front.

About the talk
In transitional economies such as Sri Lanka, the urban growth has come to depend on largely unskilled labour, who have limited or no opportunities for progressive up-skilling and, consequently, for their own socio-economic development. The building industry’s dependence on such labour force does not favour the quality of production, nor the industry’s ability to meet the building demand.

Overcoming these socio-cultural limitations may require a particular type of ‘design intelligence’ at an industry level, and architectural designers could be made to respond to such ambition through their work by incorporating technical decisions carrying policy implications in terms of labour organization and re-structuring. Advancing such a proposal, however, requires a double radical shift in perspective: one in relation to prevailing discursive positions on architectural design, the other affecting the cultural and institutional understanding of the idea of ‘technology’ in building production.

Using architectural projects in Sri Lanka as case studies, this lecture presents a broader definition of technology, which considers how the socio-cultural underpinnings of building production can be understood and utilised as policy-making parameters.

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