While I travelled around Sri Lanka before I left a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit the stunning jungle abode of Sri Lankin artist Laki Senanayake which is called Diyabubula, near Dambulla. Calling Laki an artist is a bit of an understandment, he is also known as draftsman, architect, artist, painter, birdwatcher, naturalist, sculptor, inventor, gardener, landscaper, etc etc. An artist in the mold of De Vinci perhaps. We spent a lovely evening and beautiful rare cool night upon Lakis platform in the jungle, a house without walls that floats above his carefully flooded property.
(Click on the pictures for full size photos)
Laki worked as one of Geoffrey Bawa’s main draftsmen and landscape advisers, and without any formal training as such he has more knowledge of how to build both houses and landscapes than most other people on the island; architects or not. His latest design invention, which he is happy for me to promote, is his startling a-frame palm tree house, or Areca Palm house, which can be seen below.
On first glance this looks like a tidily designed and well proportioned A-frame house with a raised timber platform inside to provide a bedroom and bathroom. Upon close inspection I was startled to see that the Areca Palms are infact pre-grown and then re-planted on an angle to provide the primary structure. As can be seen in the photos these palms are alive and still growing vertically! Because this construction process relies largely on pre-grown palms and labour (which is compartively cheap in Sri Lanka), it is a much cheaper model for housing than alternative conventional one or two bedroom options. ( If anyone has any further questions about this amazing house and its construction please contact me mrbarnabyb(at)gmail.com and I’ll pass them onto Laki)