Pia’s Villa by MMGS Architects

Sri Lanka Institute of Architects Design Award 2019

Award of Merit

  • Project year: 2017
  • Project location: Kurunduwatta, Balapitiya

A place to relax in harmony with nature

‘A home away from home’

Set on a site sloping towards the river at its rear, this building follows a simple plan with a composition of cubic forms and rustic materials amidst the topography of the verdant green landscape.

The land faces ‘Madu ganga’ a river located in the southern province of Sri Lanka, a bio diverse river ecosystem rich in mangrove flora and fauna. The tropical climate brings in seasonal heavy rain showers and alternating periods of sunshine with lighter showers through the rest of the year.

The building is designed to embrace the natural slope of the land by integrating the design to fit on the natural slope, using retaining walls, ensuring minimal soil excavation and disturbance.

The architectural experience involves progression from an elevated road level by descending progressively down a ‘red gravel’ pathway towards the rear garden that faces Madu ganga- descending physically, yet the architectural experience progressively elevating itself.

Resting on and cantilevering outwards from the plane of parallel rubble-faced walls, a fair-faced concrete cubic element encompassing two bedrooms with attached toilets, is punctured through its length facing views of river, with center- pivoted louvered timber windows that serve multiple purposes- ventilation yet shelter, in-built seating space and a fluid connection with nature.

The area immediately surrounding the building is landscaped around existing ‘Kos’ and ‘Kiri Palu’ trees; an organic meandering form inspired by nature’s curves demarcates the designed landscape from the natural, yet smoothly transitions through.

The living area, flanked between two parallel rubble faced walls, reveals itself out to vistas of the Madu Ganga, its cut and polished cement floors extending out beyond the designated space into the landscape and its raised plinth adorned by lush green ‘Peace Lilies’ (spathyphyllum).

A linear pool overlooks the designed landscape, embellished by a cluster of ‘Diyapara’ plants that grow along a fair-faced concrete retaining wall in a higher-level garden.

The project is designed to be acclimatised to local tropical climate and allow a smooth embrace between the building and its natural surroundings – ‘A home away from home’

Written by Nadia Firdous

Photographs: Ramitha Watareka

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