In steamy Sri Lanka, architect Palinda Kannangara's home doesn't just combine his business and his residence—it also combines the best of urban life and nature. From atop the roof deck, guests can take in high-rise skyline from one side and views of nearby marshes and jungle from the other.
It's not just the views of the house that are attuned to nature. This brutal beauty in brick and concrete is actually surprisingly sustainable, thanks to a number of clever moves by Kannangara.
The primary concern in a climate like this is cooling, an issue Kannangara dealt with by taking advantage of his materials. The concrete walls are double layered with an air gap in between, while a pattern of perforations in the brick walls facilitate circulation. Elsewhere, expanses of 15-foot-high low-e glass opened out onto the nearby marsh.
Perhaps the most interesting ecological interventions take place on the roof, which features, along with a concrete-enclosed living area, a number of green ideas. There's a garden that grows edible herbs, plus paddy field and a biological pond that regulates storm water.
Inside the house, carefully placed courtyards make the most of the roof's cooling effects, resulting in lower temperatures inside the structure. Another sustainable measure that can be felt throughout the house is the extensive reuse of recycled materials, including road pavers, waste wood (to create new doors), and jackwood (for the flooring).
While the eco-friendly elements—and cooler indoor temperature—are certainly nice, it's easy to imagine that for guests the flow of volumes makes the maximum impact. The main living area, located two stories off the ground, hovers within the home's main volume, open at one end to views of the jungle—and the dramatic double-heigh office—beyond.
Cover photo by Sebastian Posingis.
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