Location: Weligama, Sri Lanka
Architect: Shigeru Ban
Client: Koenraad Pringiers
Material: Reinforced Concrete, Steel, Timber
Design date: 2007
Completion date: 2011
Site area: 32648m2
Built area: 550m2
Architect: Shigeru Ban, Yasunori Harano
Local Architect: Philip Weeraratne, Ravindu Karunanayake, Manoj Kuruppu
Structure: NCD Consultants
MEP: Building Services Consultants
Contractor: Star Construction & Engineers
Furniture Design: Shigeru Ban, Yasunori Harano, Marc Ferrand
Photography: Hiroyuki Hirai
After designing and building post-tsunami reconstruction houses in Sri Lanka, Shigeru Ban was commissioned to design a private residence for an owner of a local tire company in Weligama, a town on the south coast of Sri Lanka.
Located on a hilltop site facing the ocean, the design is structured and situated to capture a series of different views of ocean, jungle and Cliffside. Floor, walls and ceiling of this building frame three different perspectives. Intersecting planes frame horizontal, vertical and perpendicular elements of the surrounding environment, with each cantilevered volume positioned towards another varied landscape. The first is the view of the ocean seen from the jungle in the valley, framed perpendicularly by the external corridor from the existing house to this house and the roof. The next is the horizontal scenery of the ocean from the hilltop framed by the large roof supported by poles of 22 m span and the floor. The last is the view of the cliff which glows red during sunset; this is viewed through a square frame composed of 4 m solid wood in the main bedroom.
The central structure consists of three levels, "lounge", "dining" and "living", and is open to the ocean on one side, with the three bedrooms leading off it on a block to the right. The project architect, Yasunori Harano, explains that the aim was to simplify the construction process: "We used local companies and tried to reduce the details; we tried to make it easy."
Villa Vista may be simple in structure but Ban took advantage of the opportunity to work with local builders and craftsmen who employed labor-intensive finishing techniques rarely practical in Japan. The cement exterior walls, for example, were polished by hand; the screen on the north side of the house is composed of fully adjustable windows, each formed of a grid of hand-cut strips of local teak; the 75sq m ceiling is formed by a series of 3mm-thick teak tiles handwoven into larger 2sq m units, with LEDs inserted in the gaps. The client's bedroom is built on a platform aimed at the cliff, which turns red at sunset, and is framed by the room's picture window.
Utilizing local materials such as teak, cement boards and coconut leaves, the structure features a series of penetrable walls composed of open slats and adjustable shutters. Natural light filters through the permeable facade dispersing intricate patterns onto the blank concrete floors.
The large roof is first covered by light cement boards for water proofing and secondly covered by woven coconut leave material, which is often used for property fences not only to block the strong daylight but also to blend the building into the local ambience. The ceiling is composed of teak, 80mm wide and 3mm thick woven in a large wickerwork pattern. Built of concrete, local teak and coconut leaves, the home is a cantilevered, open-air beauty. Shade screens and operable shutters keep out the sun and heat but encourage air to naturally flow through the open spaces.
The furniture was designed by Ban himself and aims to serve more than one purpose. Benches in the living area, for example, double as handrails, and sun loungers with adjustable triangular heads can be turned into flat beds.
The house adjusts to the climate, too: there's a movable poolside deck and, during the monsoon season, a curtain can be hung from the ceiling on the ocean-facing side and secured by steel plates in the floor to protect the house from the rain.
Inside, softly transitioning spaces merge with the outdoors, creating an open environment that is void of traditional walls. Stairs and footbridges stretch between stacked and open platforms, connecting various programs and maintaining unobstructed sight-lines.