Let’s discuss another marvel of Geoffrey Bawa’s “Parliament building of Srilanka”. Consequently, every architecture student will be aware of Bawa’s style and the way he thinks architecture. As he believes that nature and humans are inseparable and humans will always rely upon nature to live, which is true. So, every design of his will blends with the natural elements in the respective site. Since it is a parliament building apart from the design security is another significant element to consider.
- Location: 10 miles east of Colombo
- Designed: 1982
- Building type: Government Building
- Architects: Mr. Geoffrey Bawa and Begg
- Constructed by: Japanese consortium of two Mitsui companies
Site selection and location of Srilanka parliament building:
As a result, Bawa chose a 12-acre land that is surrounding by the 300-acre lake. And it covers an area of approximately 48,000 Sq.m. Therefore this lake acts like a moat that enhances the security and serenity around the building. This is located 10 miles east of Colombo. This land is actually reclaimed from a historic diyawanna Oya, an ancient waterway in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. Also, a massive retaining wall of 3600ft long, 6ft height, 6ft broad at the base and 1’6” tapering on the top is constructed all around the lake. As in every Bawa’s design in this project also used the natural elements wisely.
Since it is surrounding by water on all 4 sides. As a result, this complex can approach by only two driveways that connect with the neighborhood named the ceremonial drive and service road with a drawbridge at the rear. And the ceremonial drive divides into two. One leads to the main entrance on the east which is specifically allocating for members of parliament only. However, the other one is for the usage of other staff in the parliament which is on the west.
Concept of Srilanka parliament building:
The parliament complex is alloying by two different architectural styles. Bawa combined both traditional and contemporary architecture in this project. Also, the roof of this complex was inspired by the traditional Kandyan roof where the indoor spaces were designed to follow contemporary architecture.
Form and Function:
It is a simple rectilinear structure that is hedge by water on all sides. Therefore the main chamber is designing in the central pavilion and surrounding by a cluster of 5 small pavilions. So the main pavilion is symmetrical and lies about an axis North-South. This roof of the main building gets diffuse by the asymmetrical arrangement of other surrounding small pavilions. To solve this issue Bawa joined all the pavilion roof so that every pavilion has an identity as well as can maintain its form. This joined rood sweep upwards to 3 layers. This difference in roof levels creates a rhythm.
The main centralized building has four stories. The ground floor consists of multiple offices planned around a central courtyard. At first-floor level ministers’ offices are located. The main chamber is located on the second floor with lobbies on east and west which can accommodate up to 232 members. Moreover, Prime minister and president suits are situating on the north-facing towards the Piazza. The third floor is allocating for translators and journalists. And the public gallery is on the fourth floor.
Library at Srilanka parliament building:
The library is specifically designed for parliament members. It has more than 30,000 volumes. Therefore their collection consists of periodicals, newspapers, and reference materials related to legal, political, economic, historical, and social sciences., legal enactments, acts & bills of Sri Lanka, government gazettes, parliamentary series, session papers, and annual reports. Space for other departments: They have separate five departments for service necessity. They are The department of sergeant-at-arms, The administrative department, The Hansard department, The coordinating engineer’s department, and The catering department.
The parliament building has 8 conference rooms. Each room has a separate control room, telecommunication room, and recording room. Each room can accommodate up to 100 members.
Interior of Srilanka parliament building:
The interior is plain and simple. The floors are made up of white polish terrazzo tiles, off-white walls, and dark shade timber furniture. The dining room for members is design with clay-tiled floors and has a sloping timber roof. It also offers a lake view from the inside. The chamber ceiling is making of aluminium panels for safety reasons, each panel hangs individually from the above ceiling. The lower part of the chamber has walls of dark timber panels lit by concealed up-lighters.
This beautiful parliament building complex, island, and the water around it were blended and composed well. It serves as a perfect example of balancing nature, peace, and harmony. Through this Bawa created a monument building, a symbol of democracy.
The design is simple yet elegant that follows a 6 x 6meter structural grid. Bawa conceived this whole parliament building complex by surrounding parks and public buildings. He used pavilions in place of concrete flat roofs and in that pavilions instead of roof tiles he used a thin sheet of copper. This copper roof gives a tent-like look. The pavilion is supported by two plinths and it is cantilevered to 3m from the plinth.
The complex comprises of other amenities: for example, Bank, Medical care center, Dining hall, Cafeteria, Canteen and Reservation center.
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Khushro Ansari is an Architect. While juggling between college submissions and research deadlines he finds time to write about architecture and founded archEstudy. He is a passionate individual with a penchant for architectural design, innovative design, and creative writing. He aspires to bring design activism and sustainability to the forefront in all his professional endeavors.