Arosha Gamage maps nature’s ecosystem characteristics to built systems
Located in Colombo, with natural rustic finishes, the Eco House sits amidst a range of trees. Designed in accordance with a 'Bio-mimicry' approach, the house mimics a tropical ecosystem with an advanced, unique simplicity that directs the project's concept of ‘more with less’. Mapping nature’s ecosystem characteristics and identifying ecological strategies of ‘integration and adaptation’ helped determine synthesis of form, spaces and fabric, which fit well with the existing environment.
The client’s habits, behaviour patterns and needs were carefully mapped along the existing site constraints, while the warm humid climatic condition paved the way in synthesising the form. Spaces were manipulated accordingly to obtain maximum efficiency, via effective integration of functions adapting well with environment in generating this ‘innovative fit’ of a robust built form. Orientated along the north-south axis, the linear design formulated a design strategy by wrapping the front garden as individual courtyards, framing the natural environment into the building and further adding to an aesthetic of spaciousness.
This strategy helped to naturally ventilate, to get maximum sun light and to reduce heat absorption. Re-use of materials, minimum use of energy and rustic finishes were sustained for easy and low maintenance. The transparency of materials and their character add value to the concept of ‘designing with nature’. Substituting conventional windows with timber and iron grills enables natural ventilation and cast light patterns to eliminate the different moods of day and night. Discarded and reusable railway sleepers are utilised above the courtyards as a security measure to help shield against the heavy monsoon rains beating into the house. Having less building footprint (through reducing the floor area ratio by covering only 25% of the land) eliminates waste spaces, promotes efficient use of resources and minimum use of material, which in turn help advance in achieving ecological sustainability.