By: Prasadini Nanayakkara | Photography by: Waruna Gomis

The concept of ‘Sen-Saal’ began seven years ago when a well-established and reputed baker from Kurunegala decided to ‘sell bread in style’ – baking and serving food with a corporate identity. In the search for a suitable identity in terms of colour and logo, the flame set against a black background – the ‘SenSaal flame’ – was conceived by Archt Shayan Kumaradas. While the is flame perceived as spiritual, warm and furthermore, apt for baking and food, the Architect visualised the black setting as that which would highlight the food much like jewellery set on plain dark velveteen. Thereafter began the construction of a string of outlets – the first of which opened in Battaramulla and the second in Thimbirigasyaya. “The main intention was to create an image and the outlets were to be presented unlike any other chain, but as a large scale bakery with a striking road frontage” explains the Architect.

Following the successes of the two outlets the client, requested Archt Shayan Kumaradas once again to design a third outlet in Nawala. Through this outlet the client aimed to convey a sense of accomplishment of his business and sophistication equaled to standards worldwide. The client’s strategy in choosing the location, bounding the busy Nawala Road was to target customers, who would drop by in the mornings for a quick bite before heading off to work as well as to offer a spot to dine and wind down at the end of the day.

The initial challenge that presented itself to the Architect was that the existing building – a house, on the land – had to be maintained. This structure was ‘stretched’ upwards as a ‘cube’. Consequently a steel and glass double-height structure was designed to envelop the cube structure. “One had to go with the cotemporary norms of building and transform the existing house to something contemporary much like a street café in Paris, where you could drop in for a coffee and a snack” says the Architect.The ‘cube structure’ would house the service areas including the kitchen and rooms for service personnel. The double-height glass structure was designed to impress. Further, with the street lying adjacently to the building, the Architect’s choice of having a glass skin was intended to merge the ‘inside – outside’ in order to create the effect of a ‘street café’ where customers could still enjoy the comforts of dining in an air-conditioned interior.

The lower level was the showcase of baked goods ready for take-away. However, the upper area of the double-height structure posed another enigma. Consequently a timber floating deck created the second level accessed by a stairway set alongside a brick wall. Further the use of timber tables on timber floors added warmth to the contemporary building.

“With steel and glass there is a lot of elegance, but how would it actually scream its presence to the people?” the Architect had pondered. Although it was important to incorporate the familiar ‘flame’ as Sen-Saal identity, he had created in the previous two projects, the challenge here was to represent the Sen-Saal Flame in an entirely new way. As a result, “the idea of doing a sweeping ceiling came about, on to which we could incorporate the flames as a grand ceiling painting and up-light it,” Archt Kumaradas explains. This then would not only make for an element of surprise as a customer walks in but also capture the attention of commuters who would identify it easily. Guests could also benefit from well-lit tables as their timber surfaces would reflect the light. The ceiling was thus painted with swirls of orange, yellow and intermittent grey hues representing the flame and smoke along with phrases such as “bon appétit” designed here and there to create a sense of fun. Additionally with its floating timber deck the ceiling is made visible at every point of seating. The Architect’s graphic description was that “in the evenings as the surroundings dimmed Sen-Saal would light up like a jewel in Nawala” further captivating passersby.

With this third outlet in Nawala the Architect has endeavoured to make a statement for the client’s business through imagery. Thus it has been designed with the intention of exuding a sense of sophistication while maintaining minimalism and as with all the outlets, the Architect explains his prevailing approach of using the evolving representation of the flame as, “harping on one big idea so that it attracts attention.”

Principal Architect : Shayan Kumaradas

Architectural Assistant : Budhini Kaushalya

Structural Design : Roy Duraisingham

Client : Sen-Saal Bakers

Date of Completion : March 2010