Bandarawela is a rapidly urbanising town in the “tea mountains” of Sri Lanka. The site for the Bandarawela House has been handed down over generations to the current owner and client, and thus holds a special place in their memory.
The original land has been subdivided and the remaining plot for the house is small and surrounded by private residences on all sides, forming a dense community of neighbours. The client asked for the house not to have windows facing the neighbours. Thus the concept involved a small footprint rising over 6 split levels, with all spaces revolving around a central light-well / atrium. The atrium allows for interaction between all the rooms (privacy is achieved by retractable blinds), and responds to the brief for a holiday house for enjoying the company of family.
The core includes a ‘floating’, central, steel stair, library, bathrooms and lift up to the roof terrace with views of the mountains beyond the surrounding township. The kitchen and bathroom attached to the master bedroom pop out of the building envelope for expressiveness and increased floorspace.
Over the years, the neighbours have been utilising a well on this site for fresh water. The well is located close to the access road. The well, like much of the site is 3-4 metres below the level of the access road. Thus a major aspect of the concept was the symbolic meaning of the land as provider of water. The proposed entry involves walking at the level of the access road, alongside a shallow pond (with garage and existing well below) before crossing a bridge to the house. The visitor then moves through a colonnaded veranda past the dining space and atrium, before arriving in front of the double height living space.