By : WADe Bureau | 11 May 2018 | TRENDING WADe TOPICS 2
Amongst the most liked presentations at WADe Asia was also one by Ar. Nela De Zoysa from Sri Lanka who delivered a Keynote presentation on ‘Insight into Sri Lankan Architecture’ briefly discussing its historic past, Portuguese, Dutch, British, Post Colonial, few of Goeffrey Bawa’s projects and her own projects.
Nela is a multiple award-winning architect, Chairperson of Nela De Zoysa Design Corporation, Chairperson of ARCASIA Fellowship committee, International Council Member RIBA besides holding several other important positions of repute. Her vast experience covers the areas of Design, Design Development and Construction Management, and ranges from Banks, Educational Buildings to Commercial Complexes, Hotels, Sports Complexes, Personalized Housing, Projects of Renovation and Conservation and Interior Design.
This issue of SURFACES REPORTER, presents a brief extract from her presentation at WADe Asia 2017 along with a glimpse of one project by Maestro Geoffrey Bawa and one of Nela’s own award-winning project House No. 8.
Srilanka is often referred to as the Pearl of the Indian ocean, hanging as a teardrop from the Southernmost tip of India. Ancient Architecture of Sri Lanka displays a rich variety of forms and structures, with its Buddhist influences such as stupas.
Sinhalese Vernacular architectural traditions in Sri Lanka were motivated and determined by the internal conditions within the country from factors such as climate, culture and religion. The endemic building were constructed using wattle and daub, brick, laterite, paddy, thatch, woven coconut leaves. The roof umbrella was predominant as a feature that had a number of variations. Sri Lanka is often referred to as the Pearl of the Indian ocean, hanging as a teardrop from the Southernmost tip of India. Ancient Architecture of Sri Lanka displays a rich variety of forms and structures, with its Buddhist influences such as stupas.
Unfortunately, there are very few or almost no traces of Portuguese Architecture other than few churches. However, the Portuguese left behind strong influences of religion, Roman Catholism. Again not many influences in Architecture but the Dutch reformed the Church and introduced legal systems.
The British rule (Between 1798 to 1948) perhaps had the most influential of the three that reflected the architectural styles, followed the Monarchy in the mainland. In fact, the Royal Institute of British Architects was the pivotal body of the Ceylon Institute of Architects that became the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects.
Post Independence, the British style of Architecture continued until the first generation of Sri Lankan Architects who qualified in Britain broke away from the British Colonial idiom thus developing their own. Economic and Administrative background, air travel, new technologies, new materials such as glass and steel were being introduced during this era. Amongst those who broke away from the post colonial idiom, at that time was Geoffrey Bawa who made a huge impact on Sri Lankan Architecture referring back to the vernacular in his works.
“Amongst those who broke away from the post colonial idiom, at that time was Geoffrey Bawa who made a huge impact on Sri Lankan Architecture referring back to the vernacular in his works.”
Born in an affluent family, a muslim father and French mother, Bawa was a qualified Barrister in London. However, while trying his hand at doing up his home in Sri Lanka, he found his calling as an architect, thus taking up formal architectural education at the AA. Geoffrey Bawa had a deep understanding of the vernacular tradition, a master of space whose work was recognised world over. Here, Nela De Zoysa takes us through his first urban house in Colombo designed for Osborne & his utterly stylish and creative wife Ena D’Silva. Nela took inspiration from this house later on to design her own home in Colombo (will be elaborately showcased in the forthcoming issues of SURFACES REPORTER magazine).
ENA D’Silva House (1960-1962)
A woman of great style and originality who became a great Batik Artist gave Goeffrey Bawa his first house no sooner than he started his architectural practice. This urban house is on 750sqm plot of land on a busy street. Ena who was conscious of her family traditions descended from the central part of Sri Lanka demanding that her house featured traditional Kandyan features – an enclosed wall, veranda & courtyards. Inspired by Ena’s demands, Bawa responded instinctively to the problem, the compact site.
The House embodied deep Colonnaded Verandas with an enormous central courtyard along which living areas were arranged. A series of linked pavilions and courtyards were disposed around the area in which a sculptural “knurled”white Frangipanni Tree stood. All Columns were of Polished Satinwood raised on elegant granite base. The wide overhanging ewes kept the rain away.
The overpowering presence of the Tiled Roof, and the localized palate of materials, that used hand cut granite slabs for the flooring gave the house a Vernacular feel. The Space flows from Inside to Outside, with long vista’s to create an illusion of infinite space with natural ventilation. “Ena continued her Batik Industry which Goeffrey used on many of his hotel projects and so did I in many of the banks and offices I designed. Having been in and out of Ena’s house, I would easily say the Ena’s style of living added to this outstanding house that Geoffrey created for her,” says Nela. This property today has been sold and is currently used as a hospital car park. The house however was dismantled brick by brick and re-erected at Lunuganga.
HOUSE No. 8 By Nela De Zoysa
Built as a Steel Structure with a brick infill, it sits on 712 sq m piece of Urban Land in Colombo. The Site is bound by its 30’ Approach road, where a beautiful Ehela tree (Cassia Fistula) sits at its Northern boundary. The house is designed as 2 Pavilions on the East & West running in the North/South directions, linked by a structural glass bridge, under which an Ultra-marine Blue reflecting pool flows. The Pavilions are enclosed with large glazed doors giving the house the necessary permeability, light and ventilation.
A raised Timber boarded “Walk way” runs along the centre spine connecting the Red Slatted external Entrance Door with the Main Teak Entrance Door at the Link over an expanse of Structural Glass, creating “Magical Reflections” upon entry. The Ultramarine Blue Reflecting pool bisects the pavilion and runs under the Structural Glass Link to originate from a double cascaded water feature against the 24 ft tall, wall mounted mesh frame on the Boundary Wall, that has a veil of “Thunberjia” masking the awkyard site of the Southern and Eastern boundaries.
The eastern pavilion contains the living, the bar, dining areas above which are the master bedroom, study on the Mezzanine and the master bathroom. Western Pavilion contains, a Triple car port, Pantry Service areas, Visitors bedroom, above which another bedroom and an AV room etc. The cantilevered steel staircase opens out to a “Live Wall” of Laterite with a veil of various indigenous plants growing out of it. “Red” is bolding used on the Entrance, garage doors to give the “House no 8” a distinct identity which contrasting with the pre-dominant shades of Grey of the Granite Boundary Wall with Titanium Reliefs, against the cascading Yellow blossoms.
Flexibility is provided for “Mood lighting” at the finger tips of a iPad, with the Home Automation System for Intelligent Lighting Control. Finer attention is given to lighting under the plinth to make the Eastern & Western Pavilions “Float!”. The success of House no 8 has been the achievement of the Design that flows with much fluidility, spatially: horizontally & vertically, creating effective visual effects, while providing the desired comfort levels using Natural Ventilation.
The spatial flow of the house effectively permits the Interior to merge and interact with the Exterior & vice versa. Sun Ray’s cast Magical Shadows & Reflections off the series of Irregular Pergolas along the raised walkway and Sunshades in an around the house creating an unbelievable rhythm. The Design Concept moulds effectively the desired levels of privacy and comfort levels to be experienced by its inmates, who value seclusion. House No 8 has won 2 SLIA awards, one for Color & the other a Merit Mention.
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