What is Monsoon Modern?
Monsoon Modernism – also known as Tropical Modernism – is the adaptation of modernist architecture to the tropical zone. The principles of European modernism were modified to meld with the culture, climate and vernacular building traditions of the region. The island nation of Sri Lanka is home to a remarkable expression of this variant of modernism. Starting in the 1950s, pioneers like Geoffrey Bawa, Minnette De Silva, Ulrik Plesner and Valentine Gunasekara designed many remarkable buildings throughout the island. Their design ethos influenced a younger generation of architects, such as C. Anjalendran, whose buildings are very much of their place and time but uphold the core values of economy and elegance in architecture. This work continues to influence builders throughout Asia and the Middle East.
Why is it important?
There is a growing interest today in authenticity, in fostering a sense of place and in building sustainability without using too many resources. Good tropical modernist architecture in Sri Lanka provides lessons in how to do all of that well. However, much of Sri Lanka’s modernist legacy is now under threat due to aging buildings and development pressure. There is an urgent need to document what remains.
How can you help?
With your support, we plan to produce a feature-length documentary film about tropical modernism, as well as a number of shorter educational audiovisual works. We will build and maintain a web presence for archival material related to the development and practice of tropical modernism in Sri Lanka. Our goal is to raise awareness of Sri Lanka’s 20th century built heritage and to help preserve the remaining buildings. With your help we hope to raise $14,000 for the team to travel Sri Lanka this year, to document significant buildings and to interview key individuals associated with this movement.
Rajiv Wanasundera is an architect and urban planner. He is an associate at Lord Aeck Sargent, an architecture firm headquartered in Atlanta. Rajiv has taught design studios at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a visiting lecturer. Rajiv’s primary research interest is contemporary Sri Lankan architecture and he has published several papers and presented at international conferences on this topic. He was a contributor to Habitat: Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Planet, published by Thames & Hudson in 2017.
Jesse Stephen Freeman is the founder of Milk Crate Media, a commercial video production company. From 2002 until 2010 he was based in Atlanta, Georgia, and appeared on various Georgia Public Broadcasting programs, including Lawmakers and Prep Sports Plus. He also hosted Cover to Cover, a literary talk show on GPB Radio highlighting Southern writers. In 2010 he was nominated for an Emmy for Somebody Else, Somewhere Else: The Raymond Andrews Story, a documentary film he wrote and directed. Jesse holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, where he was the winner of the 2012 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. He now lives in Madison, Georgia, a town famous for its antebellum homes.
Mike Bruno is a video production and post-production specialist located in Atlanta, Georgia. As a filmmaker he has brought his diverse talents to films such as the award-winning documentary Breaking Through, the Emmy nominated 70th Anniversary of Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre, and award-winning webseries 31. He spent three years as contractor for Georgia Public Broadcasting on numerous productions and was a Lead Editor for their C-47 Short Film Showcase and Assistant Director for their live Job Fair Show. Constantly engaged in developing his craft he can be found freelancing on independent documentaries, creating corporate content for clients, and advocating for LGBT+ and human rights.
Begins: May 20, 2019
Ends: May 20, 2020