Project Description

Awasage or priest house located on the farm at Sooriyawewa. The building except for the section act as an entrance, has been designed as a series of umbrella, raised high on a plinth as a protection against the reptiles in the area. The space permits the breeze to blow through and across the spaces. The sleeping area consisting of two rooms and office in the front section are enclosed for privacy. Toilet is kept outside, but also connected to the rest. The kitchen though attached is also outside.The different units are connected by timber bridges. All distant views have been captured and framed.

Awasage sooriyawewa
Awasage %281%29

Building Details

Religious + Residential

New building project

60,000 approx. The building site is situated within a large farm. m²


314 m²

314 m²





Project Team

ADV Consultants Pvt Ltd

Sri Lanka Army

ADV Consultants

Archt. Ashely de Vos

FSLIA, RIBA. Chartered Architect, Landscape Architect and Conservation and Heritage Management, Faculty Member - University of Moratuwa, International Centre for Conservation, Rome (ICCROM) and ACCU (Nara, Japan). Director Conservation to the Jetavana Monastery Conservation Project. An advisor to the Government of India on tourism development of the Northern Buddhist Sites. Past President of ICOMOS (Sri Lanka) and Wildlife & Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka. Awardee, South Asian Architect of the Year and Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) Special Life Time Award of Excellence. Honoured with national awards of Vidya Jyothi and Deshamanya.

ADV Consultants

ADV Consultants

ADV Consultants

ADV Consultants

Climate Analysis

Located in the dry southern part of the country. It is 30° + during the day and is affected by a 3 month monsoon period but the earth dry out very fast. Irrigation is by collecting the rain water in large man-made "wewas" or tanks. Being close to a large “wewa” or a tank is a help as the wind blowing across it helps to cool the inner spaces. The location for the kitchen and toilet is such that the winds blowing from the sea during the day take smells generated away from the building. The night winds blowing from the land bring the smells of the flowers, the trees and the rich smell of the earth into the space. The wide eaves shield the inner spaces from the heat of the sun. The meeting points of the roofs over the bridges are fitted with “kithul” gutters. (A traditional method using the hollowed trunk of the “kithul” palm.)The farm uses drip irrigation throughout and is used as an educational tool for the people it the area.


Design Approach

Conceptually the monk's residence is envisioned as 'what would have been' - in building in the tropical context. Especially based on the ancient settlements like Sigiriya, in the dry zone of Sri Lanka.

The inner courtyards permits the wind to pass through all the spaces and keeps it cool. Raised on a plinth as protection on against flooding and from the creepy crawlies in the forest. Set in a experimental farm in a remote setting. Elephants constantly come across the “wewa” or man-made tank and raid the crops. A battery operated electric fence has been erected around the property. But the elephants are too smart. They still make it to eat luscious bananas, pineapples and papaws.

The whole building works on a carefully thought out cross ventilation system. All spaces are naturally ventilated. A series of canopies or verandahs protecting the activity spaces
Acad sooriyawewa awasa ge  for gangaramaya 000a


Special Feature

Pavilion concept encourages natural light and ventilation. The shade created by deep roof eaves take precedence.

Water is essential part of the design. Where its controlled flow replenishes the land as well as provides opportunities for evaporative cooling, in an otherwise dry context.

Due to the open quality of the building, there is no boundary between inside and out. It is all one extended space

Re-used, re-cycled material

Local material used its natural state is the overwhelming factor. Re-used elements used is paramount for the concept of the place.

The site has been landscaped using endemic trees

Building Material

Load-bearing masonry

Random rubble raised plinths. The timber columns have RCC stub columns on individual bases.

Load-bearing masonry brick - recycled from demolished buildings

Recycled from demolished buildings. All of them are timber, solid and / or glazed.

Terracotta floor tiles on RCC raised plinth floor.

Kept minimal and natural as possible.

Terracotta tiles and timber, recycled from demolished buildings

All materials used are recycled. The bricks, the timber, the tiles, even the roof tiles came from demolished buildings. The priest has a large collection of material collected from building dumps. These material are been used in most of his projects. Thereby being able to complete at minimum cost. The cost incurred is labor. However, as the labor was provided by the army. Cost incurred by client was only for food. The architect provided his services free of charge.

Energy systems

CFLs for ambient lighting no controls adopted

LEDs no controls adopted




No A/C or ceiling fans have been used. Electricity is only for ambient lighting using CFL type bulbs. The priests does not consume any food after 12 noon. They retire to bed very early. Electrical power is hardly used

There are no renewable energy systems used no hot water, only cold water. Electricity is available from the national grid. But it is hardly used. As it operates on an early to bed and early to rise with sun rise.

Lessons Learned

Traditional well understood and documented concepts have been used. These concepts have been used for thousands of years by the village experts. Who are also well versed in traditional lore, astrology, rituals, climate, rainfall, planting and sowing pattern etc. he would normally be consulted by the village. We learnt at his feet.