Anarchitect Channels Tropical Modernism for Sri Lanka Hotel

Dubai and London-based practice Anarchitect has completed a boutique hotel in the coastal town of Ahangama in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, complete with a pink-pigmented pool deck and dynamic wooden facades. Named the “Harding Boutique Hotel”, the building pays homage to the architectural genre of Tropical Modernism, which originated in Sri Lanka and sees buildings integrated with their natural landscape, through the use of wide, open spaces that connect to sprawling surroundings.

Jonathan Ashmore of Anarchitect, who led the project, was particularly inspired by the buildings of Geoffrey Bawa, who was the principal force behind the movement and most notably designed the Sri Lanka Parliament Building. “Bawa’s work has a constant dialogue between interior and exterior spaces, and this is one of the founding principles associated to the ‘Tropical Modernism’ movement,” Ashmore said. “Given the warm temperatures throughout the year and the monsoon rains, buildings rely on permeability within their designs to allow for shading from the sun and cross-ventilation from the prevailing winds.”

Inside, the hotel encompasses six suites. An East-West cross-section allows coastal air to pass through the building’s dynamic, slatted facades, which guests can move by hand to alter the sunlight throughout the day and into the evening.

Across the building, Ashmore selected local materials to create the hotel’s custom joinery and furniture – paying close attention to their longevity, given the intense weather and sea exposure. He worked with local craftsmen to produce fixtures and fittings, and to create the polished plaster surfaces across the walls and floors.

Rooms are either ocean-facing or overlook lush palm trees and dense coconut groves. Each has open-air private baths and rain showers, and a relaxed, muted material palette across furnishings and decoration. The hotel’s café space overlooks an infinity-edge, pink decked-swimming pool, which Ashmore says takes inspiration from the clay colour in the surrounding soil. Right at the top of the building, a rooftop restaurant has space for 40 diners.

“The plot was very narrow, just six metres, which meant that only three of the six rooms could face towards the ocean,” said Ashmore. “Our design follows the ‘kink’ in the eastern boundary line that runs adjacent to a private lane leading to the beach, this meant that we could align the rear rooms to have a partial- ocean view and also a dual aspect with views (and daylight) of the neighbour palm groves.”

Elsewhere in architecture, reggaeton star J Balvin opted for minimalism as opposed to Modernism when it came to designing his Medellín mountain retreat.
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