From theatrical maximalism in a Doha hotspot to pared-down calm in a Sri Lankan resort, going to extremes is all in a day’s work.
But, says Thisara Thanapathy, founder of his eponymous Boralesgamuwa, Sri Lanka-based architecture firm, it’s time to make what’s new old again—or at least, look back to the pre-detox, pre “wellness fad” approach to make a holistic perspective on beauty (think the play of natural light, colors that shape mood and touchable textures) relevant to the luxury aesthetic. That meant taking owner Vickum Nawagamuwage’s dictum to highlight peace and quiet as the main sensory indulgence of his new resort in Sri Lanka, translating his vision to a minimalistic design language that puts function ahead of form and the locale front and center.
Thisara Thanapathy. Photo: Mahesh Mendis
Not an easy task, given the resort’s hilly site. Thanapathy used the terrain as a floorplan for both the public buildings—a lobby, restaurant and spa—and the 20 chalets for guests.
“The most public buildings, such as the main lobby and the restaurant, are located at the central, topmost point of the site,” he says. “The spa is in a place with views, but not in as prominent a site as the restaurant and the lobby. Chalets, which house the hotel’s rooms, are built in a quiet sloping terrain to offer views and privacy.”
Window walls, wooden ceiling treatments and polished floors flip perspectives on what goes where. Photo: Mahesh Mendis and Sandy Abeywardena
The materials palette had to channel the same precision and environment-first attitude. Keeping materials lightweight was a functional must for reducing the impact on the ground below, especially for the chalets on steeper parts of the land, where the team used steel pillars to protect the earth beneath the structures.
That called for looking beyond the natural aesthetic to include a few key construction elements. Zinc/aluminum roofing on a metal frame, for example, helps reduce the weight of each building. For the spa and the interiors, Thanapathy turned back to a local approach. Almost everything on site, except for the steel, cement and roofing sheets, was sourced nearby.
Bed netting provides a delicate note in a guest chalet. Contrasting that with hard-edged pieces maintains an architectural vibe. Photo: Mahesh Mendis and Sandy Abeywardena
Continuing that careful curation into the interiors keeps the hotel’s manifesto top of mind. “We are incorporating concepts of wellness into spaces with the functionality of meditation caves, clarity of line and lack of clutter. That all helps to minimize the stimulants that keep our minds busy and not relaxed,” says Thanapathy.
For designers of luxury projects like this, “wow” looks might just be the anti-stress test. Chill out, already!
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