The department has its root in the architecture course organized at the Institute of Practical Technology (ITP) at Katubedda which itself is the predecessor of the University of Moratuwa in 1961. This was formulated in response to the growing need at that time, for properly qualified local architects in Sri Lanka. However at the beginning it only offered a three year course leading to the RIBA intermediate examination after which the students still had to go abroad to complete their studies.
As the course evolved throughout the 50s and 60s, the need arose to raise the status of it to a degree program. As the ITP did not have the university status at that time the program was shifted to the newly established University of Colombo in 1968. Still the course was limited to a 3 years but now it offered a B.Sc. in Built Environment. However with the ITP in Katubedda gaining university status as a technology campus of the University of Ceylon in 1972 the architecture program was shifted back to Katubedda, this time for good.
The Postgraduate Course in Architecture commenced in 1972 and it was offered as a two year program leading to a M.Sc. in Architecture and the students were able to obtain RIBA qualifications concurrently at the completion of the program.
In 1978 the Katubedda Campus of the University of Sri Lanka acquired the status of an independent university, with the present corporate name “University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka”, and Architecture and Town and Country Planning departments were restructured as a separate Faculty within the new university.
The Architectural Research Unit (ARU) was established in August 1984 and currently functions under the name The Faculty of Architectural Research Unit (FARU).
With the intention of training opportunities in architectural conservation in Sri Lanka, the program for Architectural Conservation of Monuments and Sites (ACOMAS) was established in 1983 under the auspices of the UNESCO - Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Project. In 1989 the ACOMAS program was recognized as the center for conservation studies in Asia by the International Centre for Conservation, Rome (ICCROM).The Department started offering Master’s program in Landscape Design from 1988. The course is based on concepts of tropical design and recognized international courses. A post graduate program in Urban Design was started in 2009.