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Feeling Right

Archt. Janaka Wijesundara Pictures by Shan Rambukwella

Architecture certainly can be used to evoke emotion. Interestingly enough the impact architecture can have on the human mind was explored by the poet and the horror writer Edgar Allan Poe who wrote in the 19th century. In 1839 he wrote a story- ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ where the Protagonist of the story Roderick Usher is driven to depression by the House he lived in - ‘As I came in sight of the place, my spirits sank....as sad as the cold grey walls of the building before my eyes’

Humans are sentimental creatures and one can get attached to so many physical characteristics of a space. The way the light falls and the way shadows are cast. ArchWorld meets up with Archt. Janaka Wijesundara to discuss where the heart is in architecture.

“The physical (steel, concrete, glass and brick) and the forces of nature (sun and wind) combined can create so many different moods, atmospheres, interiors qualities and characteristics and ambiences. You cannot change the forces of nature (the heat outside and the light outside) all you can do is, by careful planning, designing and orientating the spaces, somehow manipulate the impact of these forces of nature. In other words you need to understand these forces and the numerous benefits it offers. In our tropical climate we can utilize them quite well, perhaps more so when compared to western climates,” said Wijesundara


There are so many options when it comes to light. There are so many advantages to light. You can receive the light coming in (the volume) through the careful planning of spaces.

“In certain houses the ventilation is brought up through the floor/ from the bottom of the house. This makes the interior more comfortable. There is a system that allows the wind to be channeled through the openings underneath. Some of the old architecture were built on pillars to get the ventilation from the ground. So in the early periods of Sri Lankan history even before the colonial periods, because of the thought patterns, the buildings have created spaces which controlled the light, shade and wind/ ventilation in different ways,” explained Wijesundara

Shadow types

We can choose various shadow types such as how we choose the shadows to fall.

“You can treat the walls differently and that can cast shadows. You can create very creative shadows. Even the texture of the wall can really make a difference. The textural quality of the wall can create emotions. A house can be friendly or maybe even perhaps foreboding. When the sun moves the shadow casted could vary. The shadows could be longer and elongated and sometimes they are straight. That is one way of giving your place an identity. This can even be done by the positioning of the rooms. At the same time it gives you comfort. The shadows can even cut down on the heat,” explained Wijesundara.

In any society or in any culture it is architecture that defines the culture. You may have paintings, music and dramas, but in any culture by looking at the architecture you can understand what kind of people they are. It is that important. Certain architecture never dies. It is extremely awe inspiring when you think of how architects are immortalized by their architecture.

Aesthetic aspect

“If you take the Taj Mahal, it is a beautiful building. So when you take historical architecture one defining feature is the aesthetic aspect - proportions, scales and rhythms. The spaces must be created in such a way, where there is a relationship with the observer and the space. Some people say that in a mysterious way something that is inbuilt in your memory will be refreshed once you are in such a space. That is the most difficult thing for an architect to do,” pointed out Wijesundara

Making the spaces generate feelings is the most difficult part in the whole process of architecture.

“The communicative aspect is very important. Various messages are given through the architectural spaces. Creating communicative spaces that change your mentality is one of the most difficult things about architecture. It is like coming out of a cinema hall with a message. Then that architecture is successful,” informed Wijesundara. 


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Architecture is domething many don't appreciate but house you live place you work are all part of the structure space exposure to element the paintings eithin it the way sun falls the colour is changing with light moving sun across the horizon the paint on wall look different. The ventilation system how it behave with different season with wind windows ducts roof openings. Something we all notice the way one interpret living spaces our house or work place all due to architectural dynamics

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