Wendy de Silva

Wendy de Silva

Practice: Chance de Silva
Established: 1993
City: London
Country: United Kingdom
[email protected]

Born in Sri Lanka, Wendy de Silva came to England in the 1970s and studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. Shortly after qualifying, she went back to Sri Lanka and worked with RIBA Royal Gold Medallist Geoffrey Bawa on the Ruhunu University Project.
Her professional life in London, that wonderfully diverse city, has included designing schools, retail, housing and listed buildings. Wendy's most recent project is the award-winning Oak and Beech Unit (with DODS). Venus, Cargo Fleet (both with Chance de Silva) and Artesian House (PTEa and DODS), were collaborations with her partner Stephen Chance and have also won several awards.
She has a special interest and expertise in community-health projects and is a director of P+HS, a national practice working on exceptionally sustainable healthcare projects. A governor of UCLH, Wendy has a particular interest in health services for older people.

Chance de Silva

Morning light, external view
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We invited a financial journalist/art provocateur to join us in redeveloping a small, rickety garment factory, called Venus Fashions, into a compact studio-house. The building, which is in Highbury, North London, first became a gallery open to the public to display itself and several artists' work. During this period the spaces were sparsely furnished, just enough to give clues to the domestic functions of each of them. Afterwards, the copper-clad building was occupied as a modern live-work home.

Morning light, external view
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How does diversity of people reveal itself at work? One of the great pleasures of working as an architect is helping people to realise their dreams. The result is a series of idiosyncratic buildings that reflect the individuality of different clients. These are buildings to be enjoyed both by occupiers and casual passers-by. Also, each building is carefully placed in its location and context. Please look at our projects with this in mind: I hope they reflect the diversity we see all around us in the city.
Who are your role models who inspire you? Jennifer Jones was a wonderful woman I was lucky enough to encounter early in my career. She was extremely talented at making good architecture out of the thinnest of briefs but more importantly, though disabled herself, she never let this get in the way of her huge generosity to anyone and everyone who crossed her path.
As an architect: Geoffrey Bawa. He taught me the importance of arrival, procession and movement through buildings, and also contemplation and placemaking.
How have your clients and projects benefited from your involvement? I am interested in and influenced by everything around me, and have a thorough understanding of two diverse cultures. This has given me the confidence to be open to the world's culture, architecture and materials ... which means I can be completely open minded when people come to me with their particular vision. I'm naturally curious and enjoy discovering about how best to build my client's dream building. Getting to the right solution together is usually both taxing and exhilarating.