Only rarely will we see the enclosed space being celebrated while the building architecture is skillfully executed with professionalism and mastery, yet also with humility and humbleness.

By Ranjith Dayaratne  Photography Waruna Gomis

In the design of the holiday Bungalow at Matale, architect Thisara Thanapathy offers us the nuances of this duality in a splendid piece of architecture, which captures and encloses space trapped amidst the mountains of the hill country.

The building is linear in form and establishes its presence while negating its self existence. In fact, it does not dominate the landscape, but strives to be a gentle noticeable part of it. This thin form does minimum damage to the vegetation, while allowing the sun and rain to fall on the ground. By being on pillars, it allows the breezes to cool the building and minimises the damage to the ecology. Timber grills used on either side of the upper level bedrooms provide ample natural ventilation. A thin metal roof with its long eaves shades the building.

The building is in fact a reincarnation of other bits and pieces that had been there before. Salvaged materials purchased prior to designing the building pervade its materiality. Steel and timber grills had come from a demolished factory while the decks were salvaged railway sleepers. Timber has been amassed from the locality. Put together they make a permeable ensemble with glazed walls defining much of its enclosure. Noticeably, there are only two main masonry walls, except the peripheral walls of the toilets.

As a holiday bungalow, its approach is fascinating via a long walkway by the side of an elongated wall. This seems to not lead anywhere until one comes across viewing deck which is perpendicular to it located at the end of the long walkway.

The structure enclosed in a sheath of glass offer breathtaking views all around; from the dining room to the bedrooms.

This viewing deck pierces through the building and is in the centre of the vast space between the mountain range and the building enabling the family to fully experience the vastness of its surrounding. The deck orientated towards a patch of a paddy field, enables the visitors to connect with the living village while inhaling the presence of the mountainous valley and its spatiality.

While the structure enclosed in a sheath of glass offer breathtaking views all around; from the dining room to the bedrooms, it is the extreme end of the deck that provides the dramatic experience, encompassing space defined by the mountain range and the building. The holiday bungalow is an eye opener to understand architecture that encloses space, and articulates fascinating and joyful experiences.


Principal Architect: Thisara Thanapathy

Project Architect: Nadun Saputhantri

Total Area of the Site: 30 acres

Built Area: 2,000 sqft

Date of Completion: 2009

Project Period: 10 months

Contractor: W S Sandanayake

Client: Sanjeewa Maddumage