Designed by architect, Narein Perera, and perched atop a raised terrain between the end of a rubber plantation and the beginnings of a sprawling jungle in Kalutara, Sri Lanka, the estate bungalow in Mathugama, was constructed bearing in mind the need to maximize all the benefit that its unique site had to offer. The bungalow boasts unmatched views of the valley below as well as the hills located beyond. Built for a young entrepreneur, the bungalow does double-duty as a place to stay while periodically overseeing the operations of the estate in addition to an unusual getaway used to accommodate impromptu visits from family and friends. The potential to rent the bungalow out to clientele seeking much-needed respite from the burdens of big city life was also a stressed requirement.
Completed in 2009, according to the architect, “the 120 sqm private home was outfitted with three bedrooms with attached baths and a multifunctional space with a pantry. The design is simultaneously indicative of a desire to return to basics and the reluctance to distance oneself completely from the daily comforts of modern life – service personnel and ancillary space needed for the running of the bungalow and the estate are housed downhill within buildings whose existence have been obscured by the presence of the tree canopy. Maximum privacy is ensured regardless of whether the bungalow is occupied by a single occupant or several guests; the levels defining the structure are linked by an almost external stairway, resulting in several enclosed spaces which have been positioned strategically within a sturdy framework composed of steel, timber and bamboo.
The form of the finished structure was derived from that of the ‘Chena Watch-hut’, an elevated refuge used by Sri Lankan farmers as a means of keeping watch over their crops during the night. The hoisted deck is pivotal to the idea of creating a structure which “touches the earth lightly.” Emphasized by an asymmetrical roof, a sense of imbalance and temporality is evoked. A set of implemented steel supports is simultaneously functional and symbolic in this respect, having been conceived as the “extended lines of the form” which “touch the naturally undulating ground at various heights” while weighted down by concrete bases that serve to anchor the structure onto the hillside. In spite of its resilient foundation, the feeling of ‘flimsiness’ is reiterated throughout the bungalow, reinforcing the initial conceptual intention of minimizing the impact of the architecture on the natural context of the site. Inside the bedrooms are bedecked with timber, imbuing the interiors with a strong sense of texture by breaking up the monotony of a solid box-like structure. Only the east-facing facades of the bedrooms remain bare in order to allow for panoramic views of the lush surrounding landscape.”