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City Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka.

Part 1 Project 1999
Dilmini Jayawickrama
University of Moratuwa Moratuwa Sri Lanka
The City Hotel is a place that initiates activity, a building that is very much a place of Galle, a multifunctional building at the meeting point of the new and the old town.

The historic urban fabric of the city of Galle is the result of a colonial history dating back to 1656. The Galle Fort, a living city, has a vitality and vibrancy in its grid iron pattern of streets, and its arcaded walkways.

The horizontal lines projected from the new Post Office and the old vegetable market and the old shop houses converge at the City Hotel blending to the present context. The skin of the building follows the dynamic shape of the site and by taking in the roads that cross the site the proposed building gets the formation of a head, body and tail. The core of the building facilitates all the activities needed for a City Hotel. By opening up the building to the streets by visual and physical links, activity was encouraged into the building.

The permeability of the City Hotel arrests the traveller with the sight, sound and smell of the City and the sea, and becomes a transitional point, a place of shade and shelter, a social gathering place for the City.

Dilmini Jayawickrama

The design for the City Hotel in Galle by Dilmini Jayawickrama comprised her submission for the Comprehensive Design Project (CDP)for BSc Built Environment (Part 1)

The Comprehensive Design Project occurs within the context of an overall design theme. The theme selected for this year was ‘architecture as fabric.’ The notion of fabric is based on two basic principles. First, it connotes the concept of a larger scheme of things, as expressed by terms such as ‘system’ or ‘setting’: the idea of looking at the object at hand as part of a broader, holistic pattern, and not in isolation. Second, a fabric is a complex and composite arrangement, as evidenced in words such as ‘weave’ or ‘tissue’.

The city of Galle has an illustrious history. Begun as a trading community in pre-colonial times, its central feature is the Black Fort, initially built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and completed by the Dutch following its capture in 1640 AD. The fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1987.

The specific issues of fabric in this project occur within the context of a historic urban fabric, particularly as a contemporary intervention in an existing historical setting. The City Hotel was also required to integrate itself into the social fabric of city life, seeking not merely to fill in missing needs, but to enhance the quality of urban life for the everyday user.

Dilmini’s project is a celebration of the complex urbanity of the place. First, it integrates itself fully into the network of streets and paths by encouraging penetration of the building by the public realm. The streets crossing through the site become a definer of form, creating a building in three parts, expressed dramatically in its footprint. Second, it creates an urban tissue which aptly responds to the delicate balance between chaos and order in this bazaar street. Thirdly, it enlivens the sleepy town of Galle with a lively social impetus, encouraging passers-by to participate in “rubbing shoulders”.

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