A Place to Relax at Somawathie: The landscape was magical…. It was a vast sea of wild growth, water and infinite blue skies, My main task was to create something but with least harm…, Man’s intervention had to be minimal and masterly, I only wanted a single; neat; black; geometric box, placed delicately on site, the straight lines and planes, Contrasting with the wild….

Somawathie, is an area of unparalleled beauty. With clear blue skies and the native jungle, the unspoilt landscape enthralls a visitor and could take  away  their  worries  instantly; it  is here that  the Central Bank  needed  a  circuit  Bungalow  for the  Governor  and  their  VIP cadre  together with  the  related service  facilities  for the  staff  and their security pool. As an architectural intervention, what  has  been planted there  is  an  unarticulated  Cartesian  geometry  enclosing a space  that  exists  amidst the shrubs,  but produces  an enclosure of luxury and spectacle.

Third Award |  RTFA 2014 Awards

Category: Residential Built 

Participant  Name: Jayanath Silva

Country: Sri Lanka 

The buildings segregate in to two separate structures to create the necessary separate habitations of the VIP’s and the support staff. The VIP Bungalow has two double height rooms and two smaller rooms for larger families.  It is also additionally equipped with a pantry and a service sleep over room. A single room thick mass with two  layers   of  rooms,   the  VIP  Bungalow  is  a   stage  to  view  the spectacle and while away time; the two  ends  provided  with  double height rooms and balconies, offer magnificent views  across  into  the insignificant yet captivating landscape. The viewing deck captures a panoramic view   of the site and acts as the public space; a deck under the skies. While primarily a response to the issue of site is being inundated at least once a year with larger floods, the stilts upon which the buildings sit make that spectacle even more exciting when the wild elephants roam in the distance. RCC stilts stand strong, and provide the inhabitants the relief that they are safe, both structurally and literally against the wild.  The Service Block has a dormitory for drivers and security, a dining hall and additional lower grade rooms for the other executives of the bank.

The massing was intentionally thin to minimize the footprint and also to obtain the best all round views + ventilation. The thermally insulated    roof reduces direct   solar gain and   brings down the temperature of the rooms below.  The structures were insitu RCC framed and slabs that are thermally insulated, which will stand among the bushes and will not perish even with the growth of the jungle.

Clay  for  bricks   were quarried  from  site and sun burnt,  and  the glazed areas  screened from  direct  sun  with  sun  shading  devices  using cinnamon  twigs  from   the   nearby   scrubs, bring  in  a sense

of environmental responsiveness. Moreover, intentionally thin massing minimizes the footprint and also obtains the best all round views and ventilation. With time…..this decisive yet sensitive interventions in Somawathie  will  become  a place  to  relax  and  marvel  at  the magnificent beasts  and the rugged landscape of this natural terrain.

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