NAME : POOJA. DHANIK
CODE : 0905.
SUB. : HISTORY – VI
ARCHITECTURE - FOREIGN
GUIDED BY: AR. ADITI JOSHI
THE KANDALAMA HOTEL.
The Kandalama Hotel,
designed by Geoffrey Bawa, was
constructed between 1992 and 1995
on the outskirts of Dambulla, Sri
The Kandalama Hotel is a nine-
kilometer drive east of the small
town of Dambulla.
The main entrance lobby is
located at the end of a ramped
2.7-kilometer-long private road
that branches north from a
secondary arterial leading back to
the center of town.
From the earliest development phase of the project, Bawa was
interested in developing a spatial and visual sequence of entry that
culminated in the revelation of the distant view of the monument of
Sigiriya only after entry to the hotel lobby.
The Kandalama Hotel is located in the central dry zone of Sri Lanka,
unlike many of Bawa's other buildings on humid oceanfront sites,
and thus its design must adapt to a different climate.
While pitched roofs are a necessity in coastal areas that receive
heavy rain, the flat roofs at Kandalama function well in a dry climate
and are less material-intensive.
The Kandalama Hotel follows the
model of his later projects, in which the
majority of the ornamentation comes
from sculptures and artworks by other
artists distributed around the building.
In this project, architect has not used
traditional ornamentation such as floral
patterns and carving but has used
sculptures of animals and birds as we
can see in picture below.
In the area of staircase, sculpture of a
bird is used.
In the entrance also, near the reception
and passage, Bawa has created a
tunnel-like passage by not replacing
the original mountains giving the cave-
MATERIAL AND TECHNOLOGY.
One of the most beautiful features of the hotel's design is the large, cave-like
porte cochère abutting the western side of the cliff around which the hotel
Guests enter the hotel under this huge slanted canopy that angles down
towards the entrance to a compressed, enclosed walkway. The visitor winds
through the confined tunnel-like passage.
Bawa thoughtfully choreographed this process of arrival in order to prolong
and dramatize the threshold between the tree-shielded entrance drive and the
spectacular views that the hotel lobby skillfully frames.
• The final hotel design thus consists of three primary sections within a complex
multi-story building. In all, the irregularly-shaped building is approximately 430
meters in length, measured along the center of its curved plan, and between 4
and 55 meters in width.
Shared facilities such as the lobby, restaurants, and pools are located in a
series of broad terraced spaces at the center of the complex, while narrow
extensions to the east and southwest of the public core contain the guest
The east rooms are also known as the Sigiriya wing, and they provide a
distant view of the Sigiriya rock across the horizon of the Kandalama
Tank. This wing stretches 100 meters towards the east of the lobby and
includes four stories of guest rooms.
The Kandalama Hotel is considered one of Bawa's most important works
as it showcases so clearly Bawa's talent for creating affective spatial
sequences and architectural narrative.
Political pressures influenced the plan of the project after the
schematic design phase, as it became public knowledge that
portions of the east wing of the hotel were planned to encroach
upon lands belonging to an old Buddhist monastic precinct.
The plan was restructured to reduce the size of the eastern
guest wing, which necessitated the construction of a second
guest wing to the southwest of the entrance lobby.
Though the west wing is visible from the entrance road, it was
heavily camouflaged by planting in order to minimize its visual
impact on the arriving guest.
The detailing of the architecture itself remains plainly yet
harmoniously articulated in neutral tones and natural materials,
including white concrete walls, black painted concrete
columns, and wood or iron railings and millwork.
The Kandalama Hotel is a shock when one first visits. From the
approach it looks abandoned, just some panes of glass overgrown
It is not until one drives up the paved path to the hotel that one
realizes this was the intent--to build a hotel into a mountainside
and let the vegetation overrun the exterior.
The Kandalama is the brainchild of Sri Lanka's premier
architect, Geoffrey Bawa. His vision was to create a living space
that existed harmoniously with the natural world around it.
The hotel is built around a rock face, and is nearly invisible from
the small water tank below; Sigiriya is off in the distance.
The entrance to the hotel is on a lower level, and guests follow a
corridor from the drop-off area up to the main lobby.
As one critic has observed, the idea of Kandalama is not to draw
attention to itself, but to provide a veranda from which guests can
observe the area.
In vision and execution, Kandalama is a unique hotel.
Exterior view of the
Corridor leading to the
main lobby area
The main lobby is basically an open area with marble floors
washed in sunlight.
To the side of the lobby is a small patio/restaurant area where
guests are taken upon arrival. The photo to the right shows the
patio area, which is flanked by the natural mountain stone on its left
MATERIAL OF INTERIOR OF THE KANDALAMA.
Main lobby Restaurant
Skirting the stone area is a cobra sculpture. Directly
in front of the patio area is the beautiful infinity pool
When sitting at pool level, the water of the pool
seems to blend it with the water in the man-made
tank below. (There are no natural lakes here in the
Because the hotel is literally built into the side of the
mountain, it is alive with the sounds of chirping birds
and monkeys moving about in the trees.
This theme of blending in with the environment is
also reflected in the services offered by the hotel.
While many stay here while visiting the nearby ruins
at Dambulla and Sigiriya, a considerable number of
the hotel guests come there for nature visits.
The hotel offers a number of daily trips into the
nearby forests to learn about the birds, plants,
animals and their ecosystem.
From the main lobby area, the Kandalama splits into two levels and two
wings, which literally hug the side of the mountain on which it is
The upper level adjacent to the lobby features the fine dining area, shown
in the photo. Like the lobby it is an open design that features the nearby
tank and vegetation, much like an aviary with human occupants.
The stairwells and halls in the Kandalama are open and offer spectacular
vistas, as shown in the stairway leading to the dining hall.
Leading to dining area
Continuing down the Dambulla wing, the open hallways create a path
that followed the contour of the mountain.
These hallways and outdoor living spaces (like the one shown at the
photo to the left) are very similar in design and feel to the halls at the
Lighthouse in Galle, another Geoffrey Bawa design.
The photo to the right shows the intimate connection between the hotel
architecture and the surrounding environment. The first floor walkway
abuts the base of the mountain, while risers anchored on the rock
support the second story roof.
The rooms in the Kandalama is like the rest of the hotel decor, the rooms
are tastefully Spartan.
It is light and airy, just like the rooms at the Lighthouse.
Each room offers a scheduled balcony, and it is not unusual to see
wildlife running across the balcony floor! entryway area.
Above the bed is a huge map of the Kandalama layout.
Everything in the room is either black or a deep brown, including the
bathroom, shown below.
It has a large shower area that looks out over the surrounding
woods, giving the feeling of being in an isolated retreat rather than a
View of the room
from the entryway
Entryway area Bathroom