for Galle Bay @ Closenberg, Galle.

Student       | Gihan Iroshana Muthugala
Institution | University of Moratuwa B. Arch. final year
Project        | Marine Exploration Centre for Galle Bay.
Location     | Closenberg, Galle, Sri Lanka.
Context | Public commercial recreational functions intersection. Archeological, Architectural, Biological treasures around
Site | 1084 perch, approx. 70m wide and 400m long linear terrain. Higher elevation compared to the road at the southern most end is with a 360° view of the Bay.


“Closenberg” lies to the south of the Galle Town, in a peninsula jutting out into the Galle Bay. It is found just beyond the Galle Town in the area known as Magalle, on the main Galle-Matara highway. A prominently placed name board will point you onwards to this historic and scenic place. Turn into the road which leads to the Ports Authority and then branch off to the left. This road narrows and climbs past the impressive mansion on to a promontory.

Today Closenberg is a quaint little hotel, that offers a breathtaking view of Galle and it’s harbor.


The proposed site is located next to the Galle harbour and Rumassala forest, housing concentrated tourism activity. Galle harbour has an impressive number of heritage sites, some dating back well before the Dutch.

According to historical records many VOC ships are known to have sunk in or around the harbour. The bay also has a rich and diverse heritage in terms of biology; the Bona Vista coral reef next to Rumassala contains an extensively bio-diversed marine environment including many endemic species. It is a hidden treasure within the bay as yet unexplored.

The proposed Marine Exploration Centre encourages investigation of these hidden archaeological and biological treasures by provoking curiosity and it will become the communicator of the value of Galle bay to the general public.

In that task, the Closenberg is the best suited site within the context of the bay positioned as a central protrusion on to the circular bay.

The solution

The Marine Exploration Centre as a way of modernity, should create a modern statement to the investigation of functions and add dynamism to the scheme. As a contextual need, it should be a transparent and more public oriented building.

The lower level of the building is mainly a public transitional zone which connects both the beach and the Galle road. This area is also connected with the main public area of the upper levels.

The upper level consists of galleries, while the lower and entrance levels include rentable spaces with attractive recreation. Services on ground are taken to the two sides of the plan.

The building, from conceptualization, has been thought to follow the form of the contours of the land mass. The interiors attempt to simulate an under water environment, thus the structural grid avoids the usual perpendicular geometry in its grid.

The envelope of the building will consist of mainly a skin which promotes cross ventilation, cuts direct sun light and water penetration. The curved and twisted shape associated with the formation of a shell performs the function of both the roof and envelop. This consists of a triangular grid and a geodesic truss.

The roof structure is clad in a single cell double walled 8mm thick polycarbonate with UV protection.

Design Concept

The site is finger like promontory that reaches into the Galle Bay, (captures the entire bay at a glance at the tip) occupying visual priority and therefore the form of building is derived from the rising contours of the land.

As the site is an elevated physical mass with a strong visual presence at the approximate centre of the Galle bay, the built form reflects this nature continuing the organic edge of land mass facing the Galle bay. It is also brought to contrast with the existing Closenburg building forming the crest.

The overall layout is in a blob formation that runs the length of the promontory beginning at the edge of the Galle road and the activity pattern tends to be more structured and formal as the progression continues.