Thangapillei Residence
De Fonseka Place, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka

Client: Private
Status: Complete
Year: 2004
Budget: Withheld
Project type: Single-family residential
Size: 2,850 ft2

Originally from Badulla, a town in the central hills of Sri Lanka, the Thangapillei family chose to move to one of the busiest neighbourhoods bordering a commercial district in Colombo. Due to rapid commercial development in the area, most of the lands adjacent to the road network were changing its use from residential to commercial. The inner lands were in high demand, so they were subdivided many times which resulted in minimum lot sizes.

The 2,096 ft2 rectangular site for the house had neighbours from all sides with high parapets and a 10 ft wide private access road connecting to the street. The existing site conditions suggested a building with trap courtyards to maximize daylight and encourage natural ventilation. Due to service access from the street side, the living and visitor areas were pushed back to face the rear garden space reflecting the layout of a typical tropical urban house.

The two stories of the building were designed with the option of being used as separate units with the control of doors located at the bottom of the stairway. In a single-family arrangement, the main floor spaces serve living, dining and supporting activities. Most of the bedrooms were located in the upper level where cross ventilation between spaces is maximized with large areas of above-door openings finished with timber latticework. Each upper level bedroom had a cantilevered bay window that can be used for reading, sitting, sleeping, etc. 

The use of materials, selection of finishes and colours has been carried out with a touch of traditional Hindu architecture, reflecting the Thangapillei family’s cultural roots.