The two main requirements that influenced the design of this house are the site and the client’s brief. The client wanted a house which blended in with its surroundings with a lot of natural light and ventilation “I considered all these factors and realised that the ideal concept was a courtyard house,” says Archt Shobha Seneviratna.

By: Chiranthi Rajapakse | Photography by: Menaka Aravinda

The house is set in an urban environment on a relatively small land area of 13.5 perches. The plot is almost square in shape with a slight slope towards the rear side. The challenge was to work within the small land area and the urban setting to create a simple house with the airy open atmosphere visualised by the client.

The small entrance lobby leads to the dining area of the house. “It is here that the unique beauty of the house is revealed,” says Archt Shobha because dominating the house is a central courtyard with the dining, living and lobby spaces all arranged around it. “The house acts as a centralised organisation, with all the forces directed towards this central courtyard and everything is arranged around it,” says the architect of the layout of the house. The dining area is to the left of the lobby, and immediately in front of the courtyard is the main living area. A few steps lead up to the living area, which is raised slightly from the other levels.

Internal walls have been used only when essential, for private areas such as bedrooms. The other areas have been kept open with the only limiting boundary being the outer walls of the house. The result is to create the illusion of being outdoors even when inside the house, with the araliya tree, banana tree and creepers in the courtyard adding to the outdoor atmosphere.

The ground floor also includes a kitchen, guest room and a parking area for three vehicles which lies in front of the courtyard. An interesting feature is the lack of a separating wall between the courtyard and the parking area. The area could be separated temporarily in case of need by drawing the bamboo blinds.

Next to the living area is the main staircase leading to the first floor. As on the ground floor, all the rooms have been built around the courtyard. Around this central space are the bedrooms, family, living and an office room. The first floor can also be accessed through a secondary stairway which is situated next to the parking area and leads directly to the office room, thus creating a self sufficient work space for the client.

From the first floor, the stairs lead up to a roof terrace which also acts as a viewing deck. The terrace is a relaxed space that offers attractive views of the surrounding landscape including the Parliament.

The materials used have been selected to support the minimalistic theme of the house. Earth toned colours were used for the walls and décor. Except for the kitchen and bathrooms, grey coloured cut cement was used for the rest of the floors.

Most of the internal walls of the house are unplastered. The exposed bricks, an unusual feature, harmonises with the natural theme of the house while being cost effective as well.

The doors and windows are made of timber with a matt finish and designed to blend with the house rather than to attract attention. Since most areas open into the courtyard, very few windows were necessary. The furniture too is minimal.

“Everything was designed to reflect the traditional tropical nature of the house,”

Traditional touches are provided through the use of colours, paintings and niches which have been placed in the hand rail walls and can be used to hold oil lamps. “Everything was designed to reflect the traditional tropical nature of the house,” says Archt Shobha Archt Shobha.

credits the client with providing all the support and cooperation necessary to make this house a reality. The end result is the utilisation of innovative designs suitable to the tropical climate of Sri Lanka, to create an elegant and comfortable dwelling place that reflects the unique identity of its inhabitants.

Principle Architect : Shobha Seneviratna

Architectural Firm : Vastushastra

Structural Engineer: Priyantha Piyasena

Square Area of the Site: 13.5 perches

Foot print and/or Square Area of the Project: 2825 sq ft

Project Period: 12 months

Contractor: Darmasiri

Client: Dr (Mrs) Darshika & Nissanka Nanayakkara