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Marine Exploration Centre for Galle Bay, Sri Lanka

Part 2 Project 2009
Gihan Iroshana Muthugala
University of Moratuwa Moratuwa Sri Lanka
Project | Marine Exploration Centre for Galle Bay at Closenberg.Context | is of value in Archeological, Architectural and Biological heritage. Site | is a sloping terrain upon a promontory in to the Galle bay, with panoramic views of the bay.The port town of Galle in the southwest of Sri Lanka has a splendid natural harbour. It is the Dutch architecture of the 17th century which gives the town its present character and charm.   "Closenberg" lies to the south of the Galle Town, in a peninsula jutting out into the Galle Bay. The promontory is occupied by an impressive mansion built during the British period. Today Closenberg is a quaint little hotel, that offers a breathtaking view of Galle and it's harbor. The presence of four identified and well-documented wrecks within the context of one harbour offers the potential for a broad interdisciplinary study of the ships, the harbour, the city, and the organization of the VOC. The bay is also rich and diverse in its biology; the Bona Vista coral reef near Rumassala contains an extensively bio-diversed marine environment including many endemic species. It’s unseen wealth of an eco-system is as yet unexplored.  The proposed Marine Exploration Centre encourages public interest and enthusiasm in these archaeological and biological assets, provoking curiosity and becoming the communicator of the wealth within the Galle bay. In achieving such task the Closenberg becomes the most appropriate site due to its exceptional position as a central protrusion on to the circular bay.The Project  The building, from was conceptualized, to follow the form of the contours of the land mass that protrude in to the Galle bay. The interiors attempt to simulate an underwater environment, thus the structural grid avoids the monotony of  rigid geometry in its grid. The context called for a translucent structure allowing priority to the sites natural formation and its resultant views. The curved and twisted shape associated with the formation of a shell performs the function of both the roof and envelop. It is a hybrid of a triangular grid and a geodesic truss.
Gihan Iroshana Muthugala

Gihan Mutugala had been my student for two years: first as a second year and then as a final year. We noted his as an extremely talented young designer with a lot of potentials. His beautifully drawn and well-presented scheme proposes an innovative addition to the exiting landscape shaped by the unprecedented encounter first between the Dutch colonialists and the locals and then between the British and the locals. His attempt to grab the essence of the evolved landscape and develop an architectural form and an architectural language attest to a talent of a young designer who would one day produce exiting architectural forms. Gihan’s extensive research facilitated his discovery into an innovative approach to come up with a basis for his proposal. As a whole, Gihan’s Marine Exploration Centre extracts the wealth of the place and establishes its strengths through his ‘flexible’ spatial integrations.This spatial integration takes the visitor through different galleries, exhibition areas without dominating and without disturbing the visitor’s integration with the extraordinary site. Gihan brings the visitor to the main space and direct to the sea where one’s interests are. The particular architectural language he uses is one that is unique to him and we have witnessed the development of his own approach to form making. The approach of the school formed by nature, culture and tradition is well reflected in this highly sophisticated architectural form.The examiners of the final viva voce noted the strength of the young designer and placed him on the top, with an A+. Gihan was undoubtedly the best of the batch and his Marine Exploration Centre will always be remembered as one of the best schemes produced in the school.

Prof H.P. Munasinghe
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