You would be forgiven if you were to assume that Sri Lankan architect Palinda Kannangara takes a highly pragmatic approach to his practice – after all, his degree classifies him as a mathematician. But as an architect, Palinda is just as visceral as he is pragmatic.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science, specialising in Mathematics, Palinda knew his primary calling was elsewhere. He joined a course facilitated by the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects and obtained an architectural certification in 2005. During his studies, Palinda trained under Sri Lankan modernist architect, Anura Rantavibhusana, who had worked with Geoffrey Bawa – the father of tropical modernism – for 16 years. The influence of Bawa’s environmentally conscious and site-specific approach is reverberated in Palinda’s architectural philosophy today. “Our architecture essentially focuses on capturing and expressing the spirit / magic of a place,” says Palinda, “whether it is a marsh, a cliff or an urbanscape… our architecture is always an intuitive reading of the site.”
Rich, meaningful connections between indoors and outdoors are characteristic of residential design across the Indo Pacific, and something that Palinda considers one of the region’s greatest architectural strengths. For Palinda, being a part of Habitus House of the Year is an opportunity to witness and exchange design ideologies from across the region, and through the sharing of work, an opportunity to see the nuances that occur in architectural expression regardless of the common geographical belt.
Not one to be tempted by passing trends or to be seduced by design for design’s sake, Palinda is ever-seeking architecture that holds timeless appeal; the kind of appeal achieved through an intuitive sense of simplicity and seamless connection to a place’s natural surrounds. In essence, what it all boils down to for Palinda is the sensitive consideration – and innovative articulation of – climate, culture, user, and lifestyle. “The design of a residence should reflect the user’s unique way of living,” says Palinda.
Intuitive understandings of and responses to a house’s context from the macro-view – such as climate and culture – right down to the micro-view of a resident’s lifestyle and needs is exactly what Palinda will be looking for when it comes to judging Habitus House of the Year 2019. Architectural ideals aside, in the long run, Palinda underscores the need for architecture to minimise its environmental impact. This calls for more focussed conservation of natural resources and widespread adoption of renewable energy sources. Or as Palinda so succinctly puts it; “to design for need and not for excess.”
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Meet the full 2019 Habitus House of the Year jury here.
Habitus House of the Year