GUNEWARDENA HOUSE


IAB
  • Architects

  • Location

    Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Client

    Ajith and Chandani Gunewardana
  • Structural engineer

  • Civil contractor

    N and A Engineering and Vilaro Construction (Pvt) Ltd
  • Project area

    8000sqft
  • Initiation of project

    2006
  • Completion of project

    2009
  • Project estimate

    Rs 40 Million
IAB
December 14 / 2016

A home designed for Mr Ajith Gunewardena reveals the style and background of native Sri Lankan architect Channa Daswatte, who manages to create a peaceful hideaway for the family.

Ajith Gunewardena is typical of a new class of successful businessmen. He is a director at John Keells, the company that commissioned Geoffrey Bawa to design the ground-breaking Bentota Beach Hotel in the late 1960s (Robson 2002). Faced with the options of building in some distant suburb or living within the city he opted to build on a small plot in a tight cul-de-sac near the Colombo Museum. Ajith and his wife Chandani wanted a house that connected directly with a garden, a house where he could entertain friends and colleagues, that offered discreet accommodation for the domestic staff and that provided a more private zone for their family.

The house occupies a three-storey ‘L’. The heel of the ‘L’ is occupied at ground level by a generous garage which connects back via a small service court to the pantry and kitchen. Beside the garage, the main entrance opens to the long axis formed by a veranda which runs along a pool court. Flanking the pool are an open-sided dining loggia and a garden court. Next to the entrance is a double height reception room with a mezzanine library dominated by a large Laki Senanayake chandelier. The reception room opens to the pool court but it can be enclosed and air-conditioned. However, the long veranda which runs beside the pool and the dining loggia remain resolutely open and are naturally ventilated.

The main stair doglegs up to the first floor where three bedrooms share a light and well-ventilated sitting room. However, the staff quarters are cleverly hidden from view, tucked in around a light-well on a mezzanine floor above the kitchen. The main stair then continues to the top floor which is the private domain of Ajith and Chandani and contains a master bedroom set. The upper floor slightly projects out above the lower floors and is enclosed with vertical shutters.

This is a sophisticated town-house that turns its back on the bustle of the city to create an oasis of tranquillity and the illusion of space on what is a modest urban plot.