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Environmental awareness centre

Part 1 Project 1998
Nalaka Krisantha
University of Moratuwa Moratuwa Sri Lanka

Site & its background

A narrow stretch of land sandwiched by the lagoon & Colombo - Negombo highway road. The lagoon has mangroves hiding beside the highway. The Lagoon is famous for fishery industry. Mangroves provide shade and greenery for a industrialized area, trees with entangled roots, dark brackish water makes reflections. Lagoon & mangroves provide feeding-grounds for birds.

Need of the project

Solid waste dumping in the lagoon. Makes pollution. Destroy mangrove and disturb life cycles.

This centre is to safeguard the ecosystems, giving true information about the environment.


Eco-Solider Lanka.


To maximize the view, see-through qualities and correct orientation.
To create a path at the entrance as a transitional point.
The Building is set in the middle of the site and the linear building acts as a bridge link the lagoon and land.
The Details and elements influenced from mini pen structure used for aquaculture in the lagoon. The volume influenced from mangroves.

For walls used Lath & Plaster technique. The timber frame sandwiched by steel mesh on either side then applied recyclable paper-pulp with preservative to give light-weight quality. Steel mesh for partitions to get see-through effect in the building.

Architectural qualities

Gloomy, calm, mystique qualities, vistas & reflections influenced from its environment. Ponds at the entrance lobby designed to be inclined with the lagoon water.

Landscape designed to show the changing tree spacious from land to mangroves lagoon. At entrance used, Delinia Calatropis sp. Grow in the land near lagoon. Brugeira, Sonaratia sp. Grows in mangroves. Sea-Grass in the lagoon- The wooden ploes are used in the lagoon as a landscape element for birds to sit-on.


Building lit-up at night to give the feeling of lit-up vesak lantern where the details can be seen.

High thatched roof, natural light & ventilation, see-through open leisure are sculptural elements, rough textures to highlight the smooth water, true colours of materials, All these beside the mangroves & Negombo-lagoon. The essence of its environment creates eco-sensitive architecture.

Ultimately the building is to act as a miniature model of a lagoon environment.

Nalaka Krisantha

The design of an Environmental Awareness Centre by Nalaka Krishantha comprised his submission for the Comprehensive Design Project(CDP) for BSc Built Environment (i.e Part1)

This Project was set with in one of two design themes which defined the parameters of the CDB program in 1997,i.e. "Demonstrative Architecture". The intention in identifying such a theme was to give a sense of direction and priority to the designs. The emphasis on architectural expression held the message that the architecture of the proposed centre must in itself promote environmental awareness.

There were other constrains on the design notably contextual requirements. Set abutting a natural lagoon with an already abused mangrove system, the building had to respond with acute sensitive to this natural context. Nalaka's approach to the task was single-minded. At a very early stage he determined that the constraints of context demanded and extremely simple building envelop. With in this envelope, all architectural explorations would focus on the marking of space capturing qualities of the environment which he described as "Mystique", "Gloomy", "Serene",etc.

His forte however was in the derivation of an extraordinarily sophisticated architectural language for the eco-sensitive use of a range of naturally available materials. From a basic understanding of the nature and character of material, Nalaka was able to weave a singular language with which architecture was celebrated. He avoided the pitfalls of pastiche with great maturity, creating a poetic vocabulary and applying with masterly discipline.

With a less than adequate command of the English language (in which he was expected to state and defend his ideas),Nalaka has to make his design speak for itself. He rose to the occasion with an extraordinary use of architectural language as a vehicle of form and space making, which vitiated the need for any form of written or spoken language. Architecture spoke for itself.

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