This stylish pad designed for an Investment Banker in his early 30’s, combines eco-friendliness with a contemporary, modern design. It is infused with textures – from its rough façade, warm timber, the liquid sheen of the reflective ponds, the smoothness of the cut-cement, the gleam of the glazed windows and the brilliance of the white walls. The space is a sensory pleasure, blending in with its lush natural setting. The Architect believes that “less is more” and his minimalist design stands testimony to this theory.

By Imara De Chickera | Photography Waruna Gomis

Facing the lush foliage of the parliament reservation marshes in Pelawatte, the Shehan Cooray residence, is built on a 32-perch mature garden enveloped by marshland, the impression of being situated amidst a tropical forest. Its large open spaces and angular lines have been created to give the illusion of unlimited space. The minimal use of brick walls and use of glass has invited in, the abundance of nature to make it the heart of this home. What’s noteworthy is that the flora and fauna of the site were preserved during design and construction to generate a cooling, lush tropical platform for this eco friendly house.

Archt Manjula Wijeyaratne was given a simple brief. The house should be a contemporary, minimalist, modern, yet tropical, and sustainable, bachelor pad which seamlessly converts to a fully fledged family home. All four bedrooms, living spaces and toilet should have a spectacular view. There should also be a solution for the monsoonal floods that occur occasionally. The Architect has skilfully interpreted the brief to create an aesthetically appealing result that becomes one with nature.

The simple unassuming entrance façade of the house is rustic and designed to conceal its swank modern interior. Its finish has been created out of custom designed, vertical frameworks of concrete shuttering with uneven panels of timber in varying sizes. Conceptualised by the Architect, this “designed haphazard” finish, lends a raw texture, to complement its setting.

The entrance opens to a ‘foyer’ flanked by an angular, reflecting pond and faces the fascinating ‘stairway to heaven’ – a concept, envisioned by the client who is also a mountaineering and sci-fi enthusiast. This is one of the most striking aspects of the house. These stairs are made out of rectangular timber planks which are cantilevered from the wall. At the end of each of these planks is a light-fitting to create a dramatic effect when lit. It is called the ‘stairway to heaven’ because of its light, airy, nature and most importantly as, just above it, the pergola and glass roof section, gives way to a generous view of the star-encrusted night sky.

The Architect has taken utmost care to avoid centre supports in the living and dining area which spans 34 feet, so that the sliding glazed and timber doors may seamlessly connect the interiors with the landscape. This opens up to the lush green garden and another reflecting pool which is home to brightly hued Koi carps. The house stands on an elevation of three feet and the garden is on two levels. This is the aesthetically pleasing solution for any floods that would ensue.

Situated on the upper floor of the residence, the master-suite comprises of three walls of which are replete with glazed and timber doors and windows, which open up completely to the rich tapestry of tree tops. Set against the warmth of the teak floor it melts into its surroundings to give the illusion of being in a spacious, luxurious tree house. In line with the minimalist design it has only one bed with a unique feature – rectangular light panels surrounding it, which make the room awash with a diffused glow.

This residence is a fitting example of sustainability meeting modern functionality, and contemporary design.

The master-suite bathroom has a spectacular view of the deep emerald green foliage. The toilet walls are of dark grey cut cement and is equipped with a jacuzzi with recessed lighting on the washbasin countertop.

Numerous green solutions have been incorporated into the design, out of which solar-power generation is the most significant. Net metering generates electricity which is being pumped into the national grid. This means that to-date, the electricity bills are minimal. In addition, power conserving LED lighting has been used. The surplus of natural light and ventilation also helps reduce the carbon footprint.

This residence is a fitting example of sustainability meeting modern functionality, and contemporary design. With its serene atmosphere it is an idyllic hideaway from the stress of everyday life, and the ideal setting for its occupants to unwind and rejuvenate.

Architects: Manjula Wijeyaratne

Dharmadasa & Wijeyaratne Associates,

Chiranji Abeywickrema and Faadhil Zainudeen

Structural Engineer:

Ananda Senarath Stems Consultants

Electrical Engineer: G. Bandarigodage

Services Engineer: Nimal Perera

Contractor: Savisevana