Architecture Residential design

An architect transforms a caretaker’s hut into a low footprint holiday home in the Sri Lankan hills

September 2, 2020

Architect Damith Premathilake has designed a 976m² holiday home for his family in the upcountry dry zone region of Sri Lanka about 2km away from the Diyathalawa military training school. Perched atop a cliff in a pine tree forest, the house has been designed as an escape and a place for contemplation in the climate which has a temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius (68℉ ) throughout the year.

The structure of this cabin is a result of a rethinking process which modified and converted an existing simple hut of the property’s caretaker. The salient feature of the process is the repurposing of timber palette boxes. Careful detailing and effective reuse of timber from used shipping palette boxes were used to construct prominent features, especially on the upper floor of the property. The leftover strips of timber during the construction process were reused to form a unique timber screen of handmade timber boxes which acts as a feature wall along a passage on the ground floor. The use of timber from palette boxes is a great value addition to the property not only in terms of sustainability but also creates a distinct identity.

The use of steel and rubble in compliment to the timber adds to the elegance of this simple home. The stone flooring further enhances the ambiance that is brought in from the surrounding, similar to the hard earth beneath the towering pine trees. The two storied structure with the steep roof designed to suit the climate, blends in with the surrounding landscape. The nature of the forest and the notion of being in the woods has been incorporated into the design. The green zinc aluminium roof resembling the canopy of a tree and the slender steel columns that portray the nature of a cluster of pine trees has created a very simple but striking structure.

The location provides spectacular views of the forest, while the simple two storied structure celebrates the surroundings with the spatial arrangement. The design frames views of the pine forest at different points of the house. Intimate spaces with seating that give the opportunity to experience the forest in close proximity have been carefully incorporated into the layout. The holiday home lights up like a lantern among the dramatic pine forest. With simple yet well thought out interventions, this project is eco-friendly, energy-efficient and at the same time, built with a small footprint.

Manufacturers: AutoDesk, Lumion, Ikea, VADO, VitrA, Trimble Navigation
Architect In Charge: Damith Premathilake Architects
Design Team: Damith Premathilake Architects
Project Architect: Mihiran Liyanage
Landscape: Damith Premathilake
Contractors: Dulantha Mendis, Priyantha Thilakaratne, K.B. Jude Shantha

See the full image gallery here:

Photos: Ganidu Balasuriya

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