With Srilankan architect Palinda Kannangara

Observations on Architecture

With Srilankan architect Palinda Kannangara

November 2018

To be at his Rajagiriya studio dwelling in Colombo was a wonderful experience and add to that some introspective conversations with him on a relaxed evening. 

If one needs to get a grasp of his works, then one needs to understand Srilanka, its culture and its landscape because one senses in his works an intent to connect with these roots, with the characteristic places where he builds. Majority of people here follow Buddhism, and one senses in this culture an adherance to simplicity and connectedness to land and nature. Palinda's works come from here, these are his roots from where emerges an open architecture,  harmoniously inserting his construct and reinterpreting Srikankan traditions in a contemporary way. The architecture is inclusive of the place, of the expansive visitas of Srilankan lanscape and plays up characteristics of the people for whom he builds. His works find versatility in different landscapes and weather conditions of Srilanka and enhances dwelling user's characteristics to lead to varied expressions. 

There is a non assuming, informal characteristic to his spaces intensified through an honest expression and use of local natural materials. His spaces are about cement finished walls and floors, minimal furniture and a strong connect to the outside landscapeThe play of volumes, the light penetrating in the spaces, cantilevered platforms and courtyards carved out in the dwellings, all create experiential richness in his works. The dwelling connects with the larger whole and dissolves, an oriental approach of a part connected to the whole as against a part segregated. The focus is on the conceptual rather than on the precise making, but in Palinda's own words ' That is who we are' and that needs to come out by what one makes. In essence, his works flow like water.