Architecture is a broad subject encompassing different elements. These elements could range from building a new structure to renovating an already existing one to give it a new life. The Crown Spa and Salon project undertaken by the PWA Interiors is an example of the latter as it has been salvaged from its dilapidated state to glow with a new found life.

Photography Waruna Gomis

“This is an interior architecture project,” said Archt. Philip Weeraratne. Built in the British Era, the building on Park Street was originally a warehouse. In response to the client’s need to move to new premises, PWA Interiors transformed this dilapidated warehouse, to create the uniquely designed architectural space. “The building had intricate old details which the team took much care to repair and restore, in an attempt to preserve something of the colonial architectural flavour of the building” said Sharon Jayasuriya, the Chief Interior Designer at PWA.

“Most of the exterior of the building was kept as it was, we just enhanced it,” said Archt. Weeraratne. Many window openings were created as there were no windows in the original structure while some doors were closed to give a warmer feeling. The periphery of the building was cleared up so that devoid of distractions the sole focus would be on the building itself. A cement driveway with a simple design running along the length, enables patrons to drive up to the entrance, while flower pots and a strip of lawn with trees and grass add a complementary feature to the building. Furthermore, drawing inspiration from a suggestion of the client, the design team hoisted up flags decorated with the Salon’s emblem atop “specially designed flagpoles and brackets to create an eye catching frontage,” said Archt. Weeraratne.

When renovating the building the PWA Interiors had several challenges to overcome. “The first was to get the civil work completed in a relatively short time. One of the main design challenges was that the floor space was linear in proportion and the space did not flow in a conventional form,” said Sharon Jayasuriya. However, the design team has worked within these constraints to create a floor space that was filled with distinctive features. Their goal of making ‘an ordinary space, extraordinary’ has been met in every aspect of the structure.

Their goal of making ‘an ordinary space, extraordinary’ has been met in every aspect of the structure

A corridor, which runs the length of the building provides access to each individual space of the Spa. To make it more exciting the designers have installed oversized skirting with hidden lights that illuminate the walls, drawing attention to the different textures used to construct the walls, while sculptures and various other features adorn the length of the corridor. “As the client was a repeat client, we had to bring in already existing features while modifying and giving something different,” said Archt. Weeraratne disclosing another challenge that they had to face.

“We wanted to make it very modern and international without prescribing to any particular culture,” said Archt. Weeraratne. However, the design team was very keen on somehow retaining the characteristics of a warehouse, while reflecting the luxury and comfort of a spa. Therefore, while preserving most elements of the warehouse, the interior was imbued with warm colours and wooden tones, with fabric and textures playing a vital role in crafting a comfortable space. For example, the pedicure area is designed with many shades and textures of white “with sculptural ceiling features, white planters with white pebbles, and double height white sheer curtains, lit from above,” said Sharon.

“When we were designing the furniture we looked at it in terms of fitting it in like sculptural elements. All things have a decorative purpose as well as a practical purpose,” said Sharon expanding on the interior decor of the Spa. One unique feature were the panels textured in dark tones with one side acting as a panel that houses a TV while the other side acts as the backdrop of a mirror. Furthermore, the panels that are used to separate the spaces are interspaced with glass “to visually link the spaces beyond while providing adequate privacy for the hairdressing areas beyond,” said Archt. Sharon.

Throughout the building a very neutral colour palate has been used, including shades of white, with some amount of dark timber utilised to render a contrast. Depending on the usage and the amount of natural sunlight that streams in, LED lighting is used to generate the required ambience. “Niches in the ceiling, carefully placed uplighting, down lighting in the functional areas, task and spot lighting all play their part,” said Sharon Jayasuriya elaborating on the lighting aspect of the building.

“Our credo is painstaking attention to detail, and this project gave us the opportunity to prove that this heritage building could be restored and refurbished to look really good. Creating a statement like this in the urban architectural landscape of Colombo may inspire other people to reconsider demolishing an old building. The response we got from the client was excellent,” concluded Archt. Weeraratne.

Principle Architect/ Architectural Firm:

PWA Architects/Interiors

Project Architect: Archt. Philip Weeraratne and Sharon Jayasuriya

Team Leader: Lakshini Ratnapala

Square Area of the Project: 6,000 sqft

Date of Commencement: August, 2011 Date of Completion: December, 2011