“The creation of a beautiful piece of art where the gifts of nature combine with the philosophy of boundless freedom and space is the result when the client who is a nature lover commissions a modernist architect to create a home on a neglected stretch of land” said Archt Thisara Thanapthy describing the project.

By: Kamalika Jayathilaka | Photography by: Waruna Gomis

The house stands in 15 perches of land at a rather high elevation in Rajagiriya where the Architect has attempted to create several layers of extensive space that peacefully blends in with the natural surroundings. “The client with a very busy lifestyle, rather than projecting an image, wanted a place where he could experience the feel of infinite space”. The design of the house is such that it is a very free and open plan which highlights the continuity and catches the immensity of this vast open space,” explained the Architect. The minimalistic living space of some areas of the house reaches out to the breathtaking views of the Rajagiriya marshes and the Diyawanna lake in the far distance, giving 180 degree views – manifold levels of endless freedom.

The land has about a 30 feet drop from one end to the other. This challenging feature has been skillfully transformed by Archt Thanapathy to create a house with several levels by drawing inspiration from the precepts of modernism. Simple in form, the T-shaped structure stands long and thin on the steeply sloped land. “Basically, the architectural concept used here is creating a series of levels using minimum footprint to get the surrounding views, and the style or language of architecture is very modern,” elaborated the architect.

“What I did was to create a series of levels so that the scenery below could be viewed in different angles from different places in the house,” explained Archt Thanapathy. Thus, the living room stands on ground level, which opens onto either side to create special continuity. A few steps below about three feet down, is the dining room and kitchen. Right below the living room is the visitor’s room and directly below the dining room are two extra rooms and a utility space. About seven feet higher than the living room on the next level is the client’s office space and two children’s bedrooms. The master bedroom is located few steps above. The TV room with terraces on either side is located at the highest level of this house. “The building responds to the tropical climate, in that there are no spaces attached to each other covering or enclosing each other and windows on either side in most of the spaces ensure cross ventilation” explained Archt Thanapathy.

Even though founded on a modern concept, most of the construction technologies used have been traditional. It is basically a concrete column and beam structure with some glass used to highlight special continuity. “To add some lightness and beauty we have used timber floors in the dining hall and the living room; the two bedrooms and the office have structural timber floors but we have used a few steel members as support in between and there are a few more steel beams in the roof and in the timber walls onto which we have clad the timber. Thus, steel has been used as a structural material and not contributed to the aesthetics of the building.

The finishings have been quite simple with the use of grey cement and white colours enhancing the rather minimalistic architectural tradition of modernism.

“In modernism, human relationships are casual; there is democracy and you are free which is also reflected in architecture” explained the Architect, adding that modern architecture moves away from the earlier traditions of keeping a building symmetrical, rigid and heavy. Archt Thanapathy’s architectural philosophy is to be able to express your cultural identity through a modern language while also responding to the tropical climate and environment.

Principal Architect: Thisara Thanapathy

Project Architect: Nadun Saputhantri

Structural Engineer: Keerthi Ratnayake

M& E Engineers: Nimal Perera, Thilak Thabiliyagoda

Quantity Surveyor: Sunanda Gnanasiri

Main Contractor: G. L. Piyadasa Builder & Contractor

Area of the Project: 3000 sq. ft.

Land Extent: 15 perch

Project Period: 12 months

Client: Sunanda Gnanasiri