Hotel Kandalama
Hotel Kandalama

Human activity is always dependent on nature. There is nothing in this world that could function without nature’s help. Architecture is no exception to this. Though we live a busy life and enjoy the luxury of metro cities. At times we yearn for a natural spot to refresh our mind and soul. Though we love the amenities provided by concrete blocks, the buildings that blend with nature always have our hearts. We enjoy having a garden in our backyard. We like to convert even the small area into beautiful green space. So, how we can avoid it when the whole building is blended with nature and looks like a mini jungle?

The Concrete Forest – Kandalama Hotel
Hotel Kandalama

Geoffrey Bawa: The principle force for “Tropical Modernism”

When we talk about sustainable architecture and minimalism, we can’t shirk Geoffrey Bawa. And when we talk about Bawa we can’t avoid his prominent Work Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla, Srilanka. As Bawa’s every building has the characteristic of merging with the surrounding nature, this building sets up a milestone that rules generation over generation. The Kandalama hotel is constructed in the mountains by maintaining its existing natural topography. Users connected with the mass green space inside the eco-hotel both physically and visually.

The Concrete Forest – Kandalama Hotel
view of Kandalama Hotel

Case Study of Kandalama Hotel

  • Location: Dambulla, Srilanka
  • Architect: Geoffrey Bawa
  • Building Type: Hotel
  • Concept Followed: Contemporary, Sustainability, Minimalism
  • Constructed Year: 1991 – 1994

Concept and Climatic Oriented of Kandalama Hotel

The main theme followed in this building is sustainable architecture and minimalism. This building has simple functions and it is a wisdom of landscape architecture. As the area has a dry climate, considering that Bawa designed flat roofs which perform well during the absence of heavy seasonal rainfall. Bawa with his great sense of sustainability created this masterpiece. This project considered his career’s prominent work and final outburst of creativity.

The Concrete Forest – Kandalama Hotel
view of Kandalama Hotel

Also, Read: Cargotecture: The Architecture of Shipping containers

Site Location of Kandalama Hotel

Bawa Chose the site for this hotel on the outskirts of Dambulla near the Kandalama lake purposely. He is one of those very few architects who give importance to both human actions and natural elements. The hotel wraps around a cave that is abutting from the cliff. However, one phase of the building is fully covered by mountains rocks.

The Concrete Forest – Kandalama Hotel
site plan
The Concrete Forest – Kandalama Hotel
Site Section

Amenities and Design implementation of Kandalama Hotel

  • Basically, the main entrance for the hotel is located below ground level. As a result, the pathway for the entrance is exactly like a tunnel passage built with the rocks of original mountains rocks that gives a cave effect view and feel for the users.
The Concrete Forest – Kandalama Hotel
Lobby Area
  • The Lobby area is divided into two levels. The upper level is adjacent to the lobby where an open dining area can be located.
Main Lobby
The Concrete Forest – Kandalama Hotel

The Stairwells and common halls of this hotel are semi-open and offer a spectacular view of the mountains.


Also, Read: Indian Coffee House – Laurie Baker

Also, a small invite patio can be spotted on the side of the Lobby which is faced towards the infinity pool and provides the view of the man-made water tank “Kandalama water tank”. The pool seems to be perfectly blended with that water tank.

View of Swimming pool
  • The hotel has three primary sections with different functions.
  • The central part of the complex has Lobby, restaurants, and pools. All these placed in a series of the terrace. And the other two sections of rooms designed like a narrow wing towards the east and southwest of the site.
  • The floors of rooms connected to the polygonal-like central complex. This eases the function inside the hotel.
  • As the Sigiriya rock can see from the east wing, it called the Sigiriya wing. This wing stretches to 100m and has 4 floors. From the balcony of rooms, we can see the wildlife across it.

Innovative Interiors of Kandalama Hotel

  • Firstly the main lobby is a semi-open area using marbles for the floor. Also, rooms decorated similar to the usual hotels
  • Moreover local handmade sculptures, handicrafts, planters, and water sources used for decorating interiors. By that, they can pose local culture and heritage.
  • Also, the floors and interiors are done with wood by maintaining their natural shape and texture.
  • Room interiors have done in either black or brown shade.
Interior of Rooms
Passage covered by rocks
  • Common areas are cover with mountain rocks on one side and glass on the other.
Passage covered by rocks
  • As the whole façade made of glass, it gives the immerse effect.
  • However, Bawa achieved the theme of blending with the environment in every possible way. Also, sculptures of animals and birds used for ornamentation to attain the feel of the forest.
Sculpture of an Eagle in Stairwell

Also, Read: The Glass House – A house with an “expensive wallpaper”

Materials used

Reinforced concrete, the prime material used for the hotel’s construction. However, beams and slabs are painted black and designed to look like a huge network. As a result, the Façade is enclosing by glazed panels. Also, the most exposed part of the building is covered with vines and plants which are pictures like a perpendicular concrete forest.

Beams and Slabs are painted, Black

Kandalama Hotel is a treat to visitors. However, users feel that they are lost in a jungle. Therefore Kandalama sets an example of simplicity, Landscape design, and proper functionality. However, this environmentally sensitive eco-hotel perfectly balances nature and contemporary.

The exterior of Hotel Kandalama

Also Read: “Every patient a window” Ng Teng Fong and Jurong Community Hospital, Singapore

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