Concept » Galkadawala - Forest Lodge, Habarana, Sri Lanka
  • Galkadawala entrance area in 2006 and 2012. © Galkadawala entrance area in 2006 and 2012. ©
  • Pathway to Galkadawala bungalow in 2006, 2008 and 2014. © Pathway to Galkadawala bungalow in 2006, 2008 and 2014. ©
  • Galkadawala  2006. © Galkadawala 2006. ©
  • Galkadawala 2006. Uncle hema. © Galkadawala 2006. Uncle hema ©
  • Galkadawala 2007. Reused timber , handmade bricks .. © Galkadawala 2007. Reused timber , handmade bricks .. ©

The emerging concept echoed the early watch-huts that studded the Dry Zone, built on trees or silts by "Chena – Cultivators" to protect their crops from animals. It also recalled the platform of logs erected on a massive "Kumbuk" tree overlooking the Village lake from which Hema, over 50 years ago, surveyed the distant herd of trumpeting elephants ambling to drink and splash in cool clear waters watched by monkeys on the fringe of trees. These memories prompted the design of similar "decks" amongst a tangle of branches to catch the first dappled rays of the early morning sun , to capture the strain of bird-song at dawn and to observe the frolics of mischievous squirrels during the day. The evening sunset yields to the darkness of the night, transforming the perfect but hectic day spent in exploring cultural sites, to a flickering world of fireflies under a star-lit sky with a stillness punctuated by the hoots of unseen owls.

The haven encapsulates all this. Under the un-erring "inner eye" of the Architect, the once dreary landscape has sprouted to be the lush forest-covered glades of the distant past. Guests are received with traditional hospitality in an ambience created with a fusion of appropriate materials, spatial sensitivity and a mosaic of inter-linking perspectives. Consequently the spirit of place outweighs and goes far beyond all pre-conceived notions of cosmetic vernacular. The retreat is wholly true to itself and promotes in even a casual visitor a sense of belonging that is essential to comfort, enjoyment and nostalgic memories.