Rendering an Organic Living

Sited on the edge of the Yala National Park in Sri Lanka, the project explores three dimensions of modern design, meticulously establishing a rejuvenation niche.

A built form without disturbing the existing natural vegetation delineates the primary design ideation. A perfect getaway experiencing nature and wildlife is developed by knitting the true setting, sustainability and heritage.

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The lodge is conceptualized following the rocky outcrops that are notable landmarks of the region along its coast.

An architectural structure, absorbing the essence of both the minute and large entities present and adopting a comfortable scale, formed the basis of this intriguing development.

The materials chosen and the differentiation of openness (which the function demands) are also cornerstones of the design. The large airy pavilions enclosed domes that accommodate private functions.

Though the open structures seem solid from far, they are crafted from a woven grid shell bamboo structure, clad in reclaimed teak shingles, that accounts for its light nature.

In proximity to the entrance gate, lies the welcome area that holds an open reception which is characterized by a curved mud-brick lounge with a tiered bamboo chandelier.

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The check in desk at the open end of the office dome is perceived as looking inside a geode, with its rough stone exterior and sparkling interior. Another component that ties the welcome area to the waterfront bar, restaurant and library are clusters of cocoon-like structures called ‘Loopers’ that are designed to resemble a leopard paw print that overlooks a watering hole to attract wildlife.

Thus, guests are open to admire the wildlife from elevated decks at the front of their tents.

The restrooms are revealed when a continuous volume of terrazzo unfolds organically. The touch of exterior aspects seeps into interiors while using white bands along the wall that resembles white quartz veins running through the dark stone.

Elements like shiny copper taps and bathroom accessories contrasts the black background. Additionally, the pebble shaped mirrors reiterate the primary design belief.

The project attempts to design by fogging the rigidness that prevails in buildings. The need for private functions to remain as such is met by locating the library, kitchen and restrooms at the back of the main areas in enclosed volumes.

The design of the central space integrating boulder-shaped volume with the open bar and restaurant exploits the theme of breathing walls and indefinite boundaries.

The ‘Ten Tuskers Bar’ is conceived as a safari living room that displays portraits of renowned local elephants. An enormous stalactite-inspired bamboo chandelier lights up the bar surface.

The idea of planning the pool amid the central area is augmented when the sunlight reflects into the vaulted bamboo ceilings and the water functions as a natural cooling agent. The interior material palette is an amalgamation of leather, copper, mahogany, quartz and quartz pebble floors.

Blurring boundaries, the restaurant – the largest pavilion – is characterized by large arched openings, 10-metre-high vaulted ceiling and allows the flow of water through the building.

The seating arrangement follows a distinctive layout that maximizes the view towards the ocean for each table. Simplicity in design is brought about by the use of mud-coated brick niches for seating and service station.

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The copper lamps in an organic form balance the minimalism revealed through mud bricks. The flooring is chosen to bring in an outdoor feel to the interiors with white gravel and natural stone.

While being focussed on building through the present conditions, the project also utilizes elements that have perished as a gesture of providing a window to its bygone times.

One such feature is a vertical section of 150 year-old Kumbuk tree suspended over the table that hosts pre-safari briefing and breakfast.

An enclosed section meeting the open bar pavilion, is home to an extensive collection of natural specimens and novelties that define a naturalist’s dream of a library.

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A display case surrounded by shelves showcases all different kinds of books, fossils, minerals, etc. and this quiet place is open for guests to experience Sri Lanka’s local culture and wildlife.

A plunge into the green ambitions of the project, the lodge divulges the design’s locally-focussed and sustainable approach. About 40 percent of the camps energy needs are met by the solar panels on the roofs.

The production of biogas for kitchen through the food waste and the grey water being recycled for gardening elucidates various methodologies incorporated to achieve the central design theme.

Almost all the materials are found in the vicinity, which facilitates the idea of harmonising with the environment, while underlining a vernacular vocabulary through mud brick construction.

Most importantly, the hundred hands involved in building the dream are among the local community. A group of international consultants extended their knowledge of working with bamboo to the local fishermen, to carry out the bamboo and tent construction.

The footing details on the main pavilions are executed by a rock carver, who’s a specialist in working with temples.

The project paints a picture of tranquility and an environmentally balanced style in design, stimulating one’s senses. It unties the design’s in-depth exploration in achieving the chosen niceties and eco-friendly conceptions.

Fact File

  • Project Name: Wild Coast Tented Lodge
  • Location: Yala National Park, Sri Lanka.
  • Building Type: Five Star Eco-Resort
  • Client: Resplendent Ceylon
  • Design Team: Olav Bruin (Creative Director), Freddie Catlow, InmaCantero, OanaTudose, Julian Klaus Trummer
  • Interior Design: Bo Reudler Studio
  • Environmental & MEP Engineering: XC02 Energy Lighting
  • Consultant : Robert Jan Vos
  • Bamboo Consultant : Vinc Math

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