World Renowned Architect Cecil Balmond of Trinity College Kandy

Nov - 4 - 2011
Y. Dahanayake


Cecil Balmond is an internationally renowned designer, structural engineer, architect, artist, and author. He has led countless architectural projects and institutions throughout the world. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, educated at Trinity College Kandy and later on at the University of Colombo, he is quoted as “one of the most important forces in contemporary architecture today”. His “…genius has been crucial to the emergence of anew aesthetic..” as quoted by Nicolai Ouroussoff of The New York Times.

Using advanced geometric ideas and innovative thinking to arrange space, Balmond has redefined art, design and engineering to form unique and extraordinary creations.

Now 68, Balmond’s ideas and methods of structural geometry, has given birth to countless inspiring building designs around the world. Architects that emerged through a period of 3 decades such as James Stirling, Shigeru Ban, Daniel Libeskind, Alvaro Siza, Rem Koolhaas, Toyo Ito etc. are in debt to this great engineer who inspired countless architects to bring out the best in their works.

Balmond was the person behind spectacular world famous architectural designs such as Victoria & Albert Museum extension, Centre Pompidou-Metz and the CCTV Tower Building in Beijing. Very recently, Balmond has been working with architect Anish Kapoor of India, on projects such as, a new installation in Tate Modern and the 2012 London Olympics monumental structure titled ArcelorMittal Orbital.

Cecil Balmond is a structural engineer who redefines the role of the engineer in modern architecture. He combines mathematical concepts and it’s influence in structures and creates visionary designs. For his works, he has received the RIBA Charles Jencks award for Theory in Practice in 2003 and also the Gengo Matsui prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in engineering in Japan.

He has associated and worked with many colourful personalities around the world. Balmond returned home to Sri Lanka recently to deliver the Geoffrey Bawa Memorial Lecture. He currently holds the Paul Philippe Cret Chairmanship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design (PennDesign) as Professor of Architecture and is also the Director of Ove Arup’s Advanced Geometry Unit (AGU). In 2010 Balmond set up his own institution titled ‘Balmond Studio‘ in London, England. He also holds the position Deputy Chairman in the international engineering firm ‘Arup’.


Serpentine Pavillion by Cecil Balmond


Click ‘Show’ for the list of Projects Cecil Balmond has worked on : [spoiler]

  • 1970 Carlsberg Brewery, Northhampton, UK. Architect, Knud Munk (1973)
  • 1975 Qatar University, Doha, Qatar. Architect, Kamal Kafrawi
  • 1978 Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany. Architect, James Stirling (1984)
  • 1983 Royal London House, Finsbury, London. Architect, Sheppard Robson
  • 1985 1 Poultry, London UK Architect, James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates
  • 1988 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid Spain. Architect, Rafael Moneo (1992)
  • Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Architect, OMA
  • 1989 Congrexpo, Lille France. Architect, OMA
  • 1992 Abando Passenger Interchange, Bilbao, Spain. Architect, James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates (1999)
  • 1995 Portuguese Pavilion for Expo 98, Lisbon Portugal. Architect, Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souta de Moura (1998)
  • 1996 Victoria & Albert Museum, Spiral, London. Architect, Daniel Libeskind in collaboration with Cecil Balmond
  • 1997 Centraal station, Arnhem, Netherlands. Architect, UNStudio
  • 1997 Imperial War Museum, Salford, UK. Architect, Daniel Libeskind (2001)
  • 1998 Portuguese National Pavilion Expo 1998, Lisbon, Portugal. Architect: Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura
  • 1998 Maison a Bordeaux, France. Architect, OMA
  • 1999 University of Graz Music School, Austria. Architect, UNStudio
  • 1999 Seattle Central Library, USA. Architect, OMA/LMN Architects (2004)
  • 1999 Casa da Musica, Porto, Portugal. Architect OMA (2005)
  • 2000 Portuguese Pavilion Expo 2000, Hannover, Germany. Architect Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura
  • 2000 Prada, Los Angeles, CA USA. Architect, OMA (2004)
  • 2001 Serpentine Pavilion, London UK. Architect Daniel Libeskind with Arup
  • 2002 St Francois d’Assise. Olivier Messiaen stage design and costumes. Daniel Libeskind with Thore Garbers. Artistic consulting, Cecil Balmond
  • 2002 Serpentine Pavilion, London. Architect Toyo Ito with Balmond
  • 2002 Marsyas, Tate Modern, London. Sculptor Anish Kapoor
  • 2003 Battersea Power Station Masterplan, London.
  • 2003 Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza, Cairo. Architect, Heneghan Peng Architects
  • 2002 China Central Television (CCTV). Architect, OMA (2008)
  • 2002 Installation of Louis Vuitton, Tokyo, Japan. Architect, Farjadi Architects
  • 2002 British Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale. Design Chris Ofili with AGU and Adjaye/Associates
  • 2004 Centre Pompidou, Metz, France. Architect Shigeru Ban, Jean de Gastines and Philip Gumuchdjian (2009)
  • 2004 St Louis Forest Park, MO USA. Architect Shigeru Ban with Cecil Balmond
  • 2004 Pedro E Ines bridge, Mondego River. Coimbra, Portugal. Design Cecil Balmond/AGU with Antonio Adao da Fonseca/AFA (2006)
  • 2005 Serpentine Pavilion, London. Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond
  • 2006 Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, Taichung, Taiwan. Toyo Ito and Associates
  • 2006 Serpentine Pavilion, London. Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond
  • 2007 Tees Valley Giants, UK. Cable Net Sculpture, Middlehaven. Artists : Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond
  • 2007 Hotel Le Beauvallon masterplan, Saint-Tropez, France. Architect : Cecil Balmond and AGU
  • 2008 Institute of the Pen, Medina, Saudi Arabia. Design : Cecil Balmond/AGU
  • 2009 Weave bridge, University of Penn. Architect : Cecil Balmond/AGU

Recently, Cecil Balmond was nominated for the Prince Philip Designers Prize 2011, the prestigious prize awarded for outstanding contributions as designers to the British society. The winner is to be announced on the 21st of November 2011. Former winners of the Prince Philip Prize include the designer of the world’s first laptop Bill Moggridge (2010), Thomas Heatherwick (2006), the architect Lord Foster of Thamesbank (2004), Habitat founder Sir Terence Conran (2003), Pentagram founder Kenneth Grange (2001) and inventor Sir James Dyson (1997).


A lecture presented by Cecil Balmond on architectural designs. Skip to 1:25 for the start of the presentation.


He has held several distinguished visiting professorships at leading universities in the United States and Britain: Saarinen Professor at Yale University, Kenzo Tange Visiting Critic at Harvard’s School of Design, Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, and most recently the Graham Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is of the belief that “structure as conceptual rigour is architecture”, and his ideas have given rise to countless and diverse opportunities and creations, changing the application of architecture, art and engineering forever.

Presently Balmond is working on the Scottish landmark sculpture known as the Star of Caledonia. This will mark the border between Scotland and England. He is also working on a large $400m project in Asia; a development of residential area comprising conference rooms, hotels, and offices on a 24-acre site by the sea in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Star of Caledonia


Cecil Balmond returned to Sri Lanka to deliver the annual Geoffrey Bawa lecture at Ananda College Kularatne Hall, Colombo on May 2010. It is his intention and belief to give something back to his motherland. Being a professional who has conquered great achievements and recognition throughout the world, he wants to share his fame and knowledge to encourage fellow Sri Lankans to reach out and conquer the world. Given the opportunity, Balmond is eager to engineer a prominent iconic structure within Sri Lanka to help build better significance and importance for the island in the world map. It is his aspiration to help contribute to the education system of the island as well and his vast experience and talent will certainly benefit the future of Sri Lanka.

Cecil Balmond had brought limitless pride and recognition to Sri Lanka through his lifetime of dedicated service to mankind. We are honored that yet another Trinitian of this caliber has gained international recognition through his hard work and talent to bring immense glory to his alma mater, and is continuing to do so.

It is indeed a sad situation to realize that very little exposure and publicity is given to this extraordinary individual in the Sri Lankan media. He was, is and will continue to be a national asset whom we all should treasure and cherish.

Cecil Balmond’s advise to young designers: “Never give up, but read outside your discipline for inspiration from others. Trust your instincts and be brave.”


Article Written By Yashwanth Dahanayake

Sources : Design Council, Wikipedia, and Balmond Studio


Below are photographs of designs by Cecil Balmond from all over the world. Click on each photograph below to maximize them and view descriptions. 

Related Posts:


Published 7 years ago by Yashwanth Dahanayake

Posted in Alumni, News

facebook youtube email