Wellness Retreat at Habarana

Palinda Kannangara Architects
Sri Lanka

Wellness Retreat at Habarana is located on a one-acre site in Sri Lanka’s hot, dry Habarana region with beauty proximal to the majestic landscapes of Sigiriya (landscape citadel with boulder and water gardens) and at the edge of the biodiversity hotspot of Habarana Lake. The site has a scrub forest and is edged by a steam. The property is a ten-room boutique hotel with two luxury villas and is centred on wellness. It offers panoramic paddy views from each of the rooms.

The property has been conceptualised as a space for wellness – for the restoration of the mind, body and soul. The design draws from the quiet beauty of the monastic landscapes of the region. A central meditative raised pathway, which is a key feature of the design, mediates the landscape, weaving through the existing trees and acting as a spine or journey that connects the reception/lounge, the fine dining restaurant and the spa, ending with a circular space for meditation under the canopies of the existing trees. The pathway forms a walking meditation path for the guests.

A series of water-harvesting ponds have built around the existing vegetation creating a fluid reflective edge to the public spaces. The material palette and crafted brick finishes are derived from the language of the ruins in the region. The restaurant appears like a floating lantern, the gable roof extending beyond the grid into the water, melding the grid with the pond. It acts as a wide eave against the monsoonal rains. The reception and restaurant have been conceptualised as light pavilions, passively ventilated and connecting the guest with the views of water.

The project is deeply rooted to the place, the garden and monastic history of the region – including its spectacular ruins. As pavilions in the landscape, the architecture allows the guest to truly experience the history and culture of the place. Minimal building footprints, preservation of existing vegetation, harvesting of rainwater, passive ventilation and locally available materials integrate the retreat with its surroundings.

Furniture: Palinda Kannangara, Stylish Wood Interior Work. Lighting: Trax Technologies, Majestic Electrical, Kalaya. Finishes: Osmo Lanka. Fittings & Fixtures: Duravit, Hansgrohe, Schell, Access Lifestyle.

Photography: Mahesh Mendis