Built form is conceived as entrapped space and vertical and horizontal planes are composed to enclose and capture space. Corners of this spatial envelope have been broken in many places to isolate and distinguish the vertical planes and one reads or is rather illusioned of a series of free standing walls. In a house designed by Madumalee for her own family, space is trapped and many of the vertical planes extend beyond, to the landscape which in return ties it splendidly with its surroundings.

By Archt. Madumali Sumanadasa Photography Archt. Jayanath Silva and Archt. Madumali Sumanadasa

In this house, light was of the essence. Many openings were made for the natural light to wash over planes, transforming the interior built form into abstract art that changes throughout the day. Interior furnishings are kept to a minimum so as not to distract one from this abstract. Indeed, it is a house of light and shadow.

The house encloses a large mango tree and hugs the natural terrain. The earth cuts were reduced to only obtaining level floors for the interior space and the house eventually is of many varying levels. Built for a family of four; husband and wife architects and specially centred around the two children, this is a house that takes children’s safety serious. A long ramp was put in instead of steps between the mid landing and the dining, converting an ordinary place of access into a place that brings screams of joy.

The middle courtyard, holding the mango tree, eventually is going to be a fully flooded pool when the kids grow up, but is now often used as a sandpit where children play within the safety of the house.The entirety of the roof top has been turned into a garden, giving back nature the space taken up for building the house. Because of the proximity to the paddy fields and the courtyard within, with the mango tree in it, the wildlife does not recognise a separation between the built and the unbuilt.

The ultra-marine painted angular elemental wall and the ramp with it creates a wind tunnel and a suction effect cooling the interiors at all times. Coming from the harshness of the mid-day sun, the interiors are a cool heaven with large whitewashed cubic volumes with shadows playing on them. The physiological feeling is like getting under the large shady tree, but the manmade trapped space reminds one where he is. To borrow a phrase from Louis Khan who aptly put it, this house shows that ‘sunshine does not know what it is until it hit the walls’.


Principle Architect: Madumali Sumanadasa

Structural Engineer: Padma Guneratne

Project Period:   April 2005 to March 2006

Total area of building: 2,230 sqft

Contractor  Sunil Labour Contractor

Location: Battaramulla