Nela de Zoysa, the principal of Design Corp, displayed her artistic creativity from a very early age, when she took to painting at the Melbourne Art School, under the direct guidance of Mrs. Cora Abraham. Nela excelled in painting by winning many awards and exhibiting her works both nationally and internationally. Her flair for fine arts was not confined to painting alone, but extended to sculpture and pottery, diversifying further into classical music and photography.  
Encouraged and guided by her father, renowned Architect Dr. Justin Samarasekera, Founder member, Hon. Fellow and Gold Medalist of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, Nela took to Architecture; and before long, she too displayed competency in this field.

Nela’s aesthetic sensitivity was further enhanced when she decided to pursue her academic education in Architecture, which began at Syracuse University - New York, and extended later to the University of Moratuwa, in the field of Architectural Conservation. Thereafter she completed her architectural education at the City School of Architecture (CSA) being one of the pioneers to receive her charter from the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects.

Her experience in this profession spans a long period of time in her father’s firm, Justin Samarasekera Associates. Her potential for creativity and her sharp sense of aesthetics, elevated her to the post of Partner / Director of this firm; where she functioned, as it’s Principal Designer for over a decade.

In 1993, she went on to form her own firm, Nela de Zoysa Design Corporation, to bring a fresh approach to Architecture at the turn of the 21st century.

Nela’s vast experience covers the areas of Design, Design Development and Construction Management, and ranges from Banks, Educational Buildings to Commercial Complexes, Hotels, Sport Complexes, Personalized Housing, Projects of Renovation and Conservation and Interior Design.

  The highlights of her career include being the only Sri Lankan to win the coveted ARCASIA Gold Medal in 2000 for the BMW complex. This was considered the best design amongst countries spanning from Pakistan to Japan, by the Architects Regional Council of Asia. In addition, she was the first Sri Lankan woman to receive the South Asian Architect Commendation Award the same year for the Priyanthi Stephen House. She was also the recipient of the ‘Woman of Achievement Award’ for Architecture in 1993 from Zonta International for her contribution to Architecture, a title she holds to date.


Nela was recently presented with the prestigious ‘Commendation Award’ for Excellence in Architecture, at the Inaugural Geoffrey Bawa Awards 2008; adding to a bevy of 16 National Awards presented by the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects for Design Excellence, Merit and Innovative use of Colour.

Her distinct ability to enhance the ‘qualitative’ aspects of space by the bold integration of colour, has brought about a crisp ambience, giving a distinct identity to many Commercial Establishments, catering to the physical and psychological needs of the user and helping to boost efficiency, in the working environment. This is evident in her design of the Seylan Bank Headquarters, which is considered, a turning point in Interior Design, in Sri Lanka. This rare and vital talent, she imposes on her Architectural works, has thus given her the distinction of being presented with Awards for Excellence in Design from the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects for several consecutive years.


Nela treats her architectural works in a manner that it harmonizes with that of the surroundings, reading as an integral part of the urban landscape. Her love for nature is highlighted in her work, where one can witness the flow of the exterior space into the interior and vice versa. In instances where it cannot blend with that of the environment, she uses it as a challenge, thus making it a feature.

In 2009, the American Institute of Architects recognized her outstanding contribution to the profession by bestowing upon her an Honorary Fellowship of the AIA, which is one of the highest honors the AIA bestows upon their international colleagues. She is not just the only Sri Lankan after Geoffrey Bawa to receive this Honor, but has the added distinction of being the 7th woman in the world!


Her international affiliations also include bring a Fellow member of ARCASIA, member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Royal Architectural institute of Canada and the Indian Institute of Interior Designers. In addition, Nela has attended numerous international conferences resulting in exposure to diverse cultures. Her varied interests, ranging from Art to classical music and opera have molded Nela, into a versatile Architect.

With the establishment of her own firm, Nela has been responsible for the creation of many spectacular works. Her energy, drive & commitment to each individual project & client is unmatched. Her personal touch is stamped on every project handled by the firm, ensuring that each of them stands out in their locality. A leader, in a true sense, she is the driving force, of this burgeoning organization.

  © 2011 Nela De Zoysa Design Corporation (Pvt) Ltd | Concept & Design by Novart