By Madhushala Senaratne | Photography by Malaka Weligodapola

When Architect Channa Horombuwa visited the site of the Jayampathy Aluvihare House in Kandy he was struck by two of its features – the slope, and the picturesque view, that of Dalada Maligawa, Kandy Lake, the Udawatta Forest, and the distant mountain ranges of Knuckles and Hunnasgiriya.

“I took the panoramic view as the primary generator for the design and the slope as the secondary generator,” says Archt Channa talking about the inspiration for his unique design.

A significant aspect of the design is that all rooms, and lobby area have been designed in such a way that they obtain a good view of the Maligawa. Curvy glasses complete with aluminium ensure that there is minimal visual disturbance. Aluminium was preferred over timber, as large chunks of wood would accompany timber windows, explains Archt Channa, adding that aluminium also provides a more modern look.

Since the site was at a slope, the house is designed at a split-level, rather than flattening the land area. The lowest level consists of the garages. A flight of steps from here leads to an entrance court defined by an open veranda. The guest’s room and bathroom are located at the intermediate level. From here, one is led to the living room. A foot above the living area is the dinning and pantry, kitchen and servant’s section.

The master bedroom, walk-in closet and attached bathroom are situated at the mezzanine level. This leads to the family living area. From here, there is an entrance to the swimming pool. “I thought of locating the swimming pool in the rear space to provide more privacy.” This level also consists of two other bedrooms, one bathroom and utility room, fulfilling the client’s requirement of four bedrooms.

However, the client sought a space for the children to play and thus a roof terrace or turf area was designed just above the swimming pool. This gave the house a contemporary, unique and novel shape, and a more sculptural look. “The design came naturally with the shifting of shapes and the combination of different geometries,” adds Archt Channa.

Speaking of some of the technologies and material used, Archt Channa says that retaining walls with concrete had to be set up as the site was at a slope. In addition, white was used on the walls with the aim of highlighting the panoramic views of the exterior. “My main idea was to give priority to the view, so I used white throughout. So, once you are inside the house, what you really see is the exterior, and not the highlighted walls.”

Simplicity was at the centre of the design. Simple steel hand grails were used and these were painted in black, again to not disturb the view. However, inside, the main staircase was padded with timber. Later on, a spiral staircase was also introduced connecting the family area (at the top) and the pantry (at a lower level), as according to the initial plan one had to walk across the living area to reach the kitchen.

Although the slope of the site proved a challenge, Archt Channa said that they were able to overcome this. In fact, he says, the design is one of his personal favourites, and goes on to express his immense satisfaction that the creation was commended for its novelty, originality and creativity. The Jayampathy Aluvihare House was selected as the 7th of the top 20 winners of the World Architecture Community Awards.

Principal Architect: Archt Channa Horombuwa

Location: Kandy, Sri Lanka

Type of Project: Single Family Residence

Structural Engineer: Dr Udaya Dissanayake

Design Team: Channa and Jeeva Horombuwa

Client: Jayampathi Aluvihare

Contractor: Asian Engineers, Kandy

Design Date: April 2005

Project Completion Date: April 2008

Gross Internal Floor Area: 3500 sq ft