Dr. Sembukuttiarachilage Roland Silva has provided spiritual support for conserving historical monuments and sites since being named the first International President of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) from Asia.
Dr. Silva studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in the 1950s. At the same time, he completed studies in the Royal Institute of British Architects program. While in London, he also studied archaeology at the University of London's Institute of Archaeology. He then continued his study of preservation and restoration at the University of Rome and other institutions. In 1988, he was awarded a doctor's degree by the University of Leiden in the Netherlands for his research into religious architecture in Sri Lanka. During this time, he has developed a basis for academic theories regarding the conservation of Asian historical sites.
Dr. Silva has furthered historical insight and deepened artistic and cultural understanding. Further, he has created the practical underpinnings for the science of conservation by creating scientific methods and the appropriate conservation techniques.
Starting in the 1960s, he was involved in many activities of UNESCO and its advisory body, ICOMOS. He has performed a leading role as both an advocate and a man of action in the field for the conservation of cultural sites, not only in Sri Lanka, but also throughout the Asia. The result has been his selection as the International President of ICOMOS for three consecutive terms.
Dr. Silva has actively encouraged a greater involvement on the part of ICOMOS in Asia, and established a methodology for operations at archaeological excavation sites that encourages the understanding of the local population in historical site preservation and their participation in the work. In particular, he planned the Cultural Triangle Project in Sri Lanka, the largest Asian project conducted as part of UNESCO's campaign to protect the world's cultural legacy. It is typical of the broad scale of his endeavors that he has been involved in everything from creating a fund for financial resources to providing guidance in the conservation work at individual sites.
Dr. Silva also has provided guidance as a UNESCO Consultant for historical conservation to the governments of Thailand, Bangladesh, Maldives, Cambodia, and Pakistan. He has worked tirelessly to expand the number of Asian historical sites registered as world cultural heritage sites and contributed to the development of cultural tourism based on these cultural assets.
In addition to these activities, it is a well-known fact that he also utilized his knowledge to serve as an editorial consultant for Sir Banister Fletcher's "A History of Architecture" for the southern and southeastern areas of Asia.
Dr. Silva's great achievement has been the formulation of a sustainable policy for conserving historical sites that harmonizes the contradictory aspects of historical conservation and the creation of assets for tourism. He has provided dreams and hope for the future for many Asian countries and their people through the utilization of their historical assets. His contribution to the activities of conserving historical assets and monuments, not only in Sri Lanka, but also in Asia and throughout the world, make him a worthy recipient of the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.