Breathing life to the dead | Daily News


Breathing life to the dead


The art of giving life to the dead is the very soul of architecture. Using ‘dead’ walls and lifeless elements of the universe to bring life to occupants is what architecture is all about. Arch World features Nuwan Premarathna who is an eye-opening architect.

“The wind, water or sunlight; ultimately it is about creating comfort. This is about creating moods and expressions out of dead walls. Good ventilation is the breath of life in architecture. The wind should come in and go out. Creating atmospheres out of dead walls is something I really like,” said Premarathna. The wonderful thing about architecture is essentially using lifeless elements in the universe, common to every country and region to create life.

“I believe in the light, water and wind. I also believe in greenery. You just need to take maximum use of it. To me, sunlight is very special. Sunlight can create moods.

The way the light shines on you can change your face. If light shines in a certain way, you can scare people away! It can define your space.

It can give you a calm sensation. How you manipulate sunlight is again very important; how it comes in and creates shadows and how it changes hue – such things are important,” explained Premarathna.

In a way, architecture is derived from a universal consciousness. It is taking what is common to people and configuring it according to their unique personalities.

“Sunlight can create qualities. It can give you patches of light. It can change the environment if you have certain openings in the direction the sun moves. If you can place the pool at the angle of the sun, you can create a reflection in your house. It will have a vibrant effect on the wall. I am still trying to master it and I am learning it,” conceded Premarathna.

Premarathna decided to do architecture because it is fun.

“It does not stress me out. I am lucky to have good partners. So they take the stress away. Stress does not come from the creation or the process of designing. Stress is when you need to run an office, a business. You need to have employees. But I am lucky because my partners are looking after these things,” stated Premarathna.

It seems that Premarathna is lucky on the field as well, having worked with quite a number of good construction engineers.

“We have some good construction engineers in the country who are very versatile. I am happy with all the construction and service engineers we have worked with. We have a good set of consultants and professionals,” added Premarathna.

Premarathna discussed his architecture by relating an interesting story. He didn’t have it easy. The architecture was not served to him on a gold platter.

“I left the State Engineering Corporation and started a practice of my own. I had nothing but a laptop, an old Mercedes car, my camera, printer and scanner. I started doing small projects. I did my designing and estimates which are structural things. I got the assistance of engineers. My office was my car. I had small projects in Anuradhapura and Moneragala where I drive to and work with masons,” elaborated Premarathna.

When you learn from a simple person who has learnt from his father, they share their experiences with you. They share with you all that they have learnt. You learn the trade secrets.

“When working with local artisans and doing small projects, you thrive in the field. That is the way you can learn a lot. You can learn all you can from the university architectural curriculums but it does not teach you how to work with masons. They don’t teach you to associate with the small man and locals. It does not teach you to work with those who dabble in witchcraft. You need to accommodate their beliefs. So I did all of this for about five years. That is where I learnt a lot,” elucidated Premarathna. When you do a design and it is good, you have a certain satisfaction. “You build and you grow. You keep on evolving. Then you become unsatisfied with what you made a year ago,” stated Premarathna.

The proportion of space can create certain reverberations.

“If you carefully study it, there are certain proportions for spiritual buildings. It is more or less universal. It does not matter if it is a mosque or a church, you feel the same sort of spirituality. It is again defining space. You just feel it,” informs Premarathna. 

Urapotha country houseSampath and Nisansala's HouseGarton's Cape, Ahangama






Visit Sri Lanka's Largest online shop. Over 125,000 unique categories such as Fresh Flowers, Cakes, Food, Jewllery, Childrens Toys and other Sri Lankan e-commerce categories. Low delivery cost to most cities here and free delivery in Colombo.

Add new comment