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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