Roland Silva

Roland Silva is a Sri Lankan specialist in Asian architecture and archeology. He studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and the University of London in the 1950s before obtaining a Ph.D. from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1988. At the head of the Department of Archeology of the Sri Lankan government in the early 1980s, he prepared nomination files for the first three Sri Lankan World Heritage sites and created ICOMOS Sri Lanka following the encouragement of Michel Parent. At the same time, he also set up the Central Cultural Fund, an important body dedicated to financing cultural activities.

In 1990 Roland Silva was elected President of ICOMOS International, a position he held for three terms until 1999. During this period and at his initiative, the number of ICOMOS International Scientific Committees increased from 11 to 24. Roland Silva also chaired the Nara Conference on Authenticity in 1994. Recipient of the Piero Gazzola Prize (1999) and the Fukuoka Arts and Culture Award (2004), he is the author of numerous academic publications on Asian conservation, architecture and archeology. These include Religious Architecture in Early and Medieval Sri Lanka (Krips Repro, 1988).

The following audio excerpts are from an interview with Roland Silva by Christina Cameron in October 2011 in Victoria, Canada. They highlight the important contributions of the first Asian President of ICOMOS, notably through the development of International Scientific Committees and advice to the World Heritage Convention. Roland Silva shares his reflections on issues such as the length of the List and the changing notion of authenticity.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Roland Silva by Christina Cameron, Victoria, Canada, 11 October 2011.