LAWRENCE — The Architectural Research Centers Consortium has announced that Kapila Silva, assistant professor of architecture, has received its 2013 New Researcher Award.
The ARCC is an international association of research centers that supports the expansion of the research culture in university architecture schools. About 60 institutions are members.
The type of research supported by ARCC varies from the technical to the theoretical. It has sponsored topics in such fields as building science and technology, computer-aided software design and historic preservation.
Silva researches the social and cultural dimensions of the historic preservation of architecture and neighborhoods in Asian countries. In particular he has been studying both the theoretical and pragmatic issues related to UNESCO’s World Heritage Program.
Historically important buildings, districts and neighborhoods are increasingly under pressure from developers there and vulnerable to demolition.
“My particular attention has been on ways of identifying and conserving values and meanings people associate with historic places, and how to safeguard that cultural significance during the preservation exercise,” Silva said.
“Most historic buildings are still inhabited and there are myths, rituals, cultural practices and traditional knowledge systems that are closely connected with them. One cannot simply focus on preserving the historic architecture and pay no attention to how buildings are understood, valued and used by the community,“ he said.
In addition to organizing several symposia on preservation, Silva has also received research grants from KU’s New Faculty General Research Fund and the KU Center of East Asian Studies. Recently he took a group of students from the Departments of Architecture and Design to Asia as part of KU’s Study Abroad program.
A book that Silva co-edited, "Asian Heritage Management," was just published by Routledge.
“I was pleasantly surprised since the ARCC New Researcher award is competitive, and many outstanding architectural researchers submitted their work,” Kapila said. “Without the support of colleagues, friends and students at KU and elsewhere, none of this important scholarship is possible.”