Designing your dream home | Daily News

Designing your dream home

ArchWorld speaks to Principal Architect –KWCA, Council Member- Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, Chartered Architect, Architect Kosala Weerasekara, on the very basic design processes that culminate in a unique creation.

“When we start a design, if it is a personal house we follow a certain design process. When it comes to residences the primary design generator would be the Client/User. The secondary design generator would be the site. As architects we always analyze the client and take into account their preferences, their tastes, and their way of life. We become so close to them that we can understand what their actual needs are. After that we start designing for them. So when it comes to the site, we have to consider the weather patterns such as wind movement and sun path. So each house is being designed after analyzing the client and the site first. So that’s why each house has its unique character,” explained Weerasekara.

In society there are so many different types of people. There are introverts and there are extroverts. There are those who like large crowds and there are those who prefer surroundings that are more mellow. Night clubs are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people are pack rats and there are those who are not hoarders. When doing personal housing you meet the same types of people.

Unique solution

“For me extroverts and introverts are two types of personalities. In architecture everyone we meet is full of different characteristics. So if we analyze the client carefully, it will lead to a unique solution for that person. So for example, a house designed for one introvert will be different from a house designed for another introvert,” said Weerasekara.

We know that in society there are many with a nervous disposition. It is highly common to the point that we all know someone who has a nervous disposition. One has only to go on YouTube and there are plenty of talk shows like Dr. Phil where you encounter many people with a nervous disposition. So when building a personal house, it depends on the client’s situation. Weerasekara points out that as an architect he always tries to design a house that is livable for his client who during the course of their association becomes more of a friend.

There is an interesting story in a book called Northern Lights from the Soviet Union. Since olden times many different tribes lived in that region. There is a fairy tale called – ‘The Burbot and Princess Marya, his wife’. The Burbot wished to marry the Tsar’s daughter and on the pain of death the Tsar ordered the Burbot to build a house as magnificent as the Tsar’s own in the space of one night! The Burbot accomplished this task! Once more these fairy tales form a plan and plant an idea in the child’s mind! They too want a house as majestic as the house the Burbot made!

Homely feeling

“So the architects responsibility is to identify the qualities of the user and design an ideal home for the particular client. I don’t believe there is an ideal house for a Sri Lankan. Of course there can be similarities using materials and techniques. But what an Architect needs to do is deliver a unique and ideal house for each client which makes them feel that it is their very own home,” pointed out Weerasekara.

The tale of The Burbot and Princess Marya, his wife does not end there. The Tsar orders the Burbot to build a new church in one night, the likes of which have never before been seen in that country! The Burbot accomplishes this and eventually the Burbot marries the Tsar’s daughter. All of this forms a unique idea in the mind of the child that reads the fairy tale!

“In my experience before you build a house you need to know about yourself. Your capabilities and especially your financial capabilities. You need to be honest with yourself and recognize your likes and dislikes. You need to plan for the future. For example what you will be doing in the coming years. If you have kids, you need to think to yourself – ‘what will my kids be doing in the coming years?’. So you need to discuss this with your architect. And I always tell my clients to think in the long term - for example, in the coming 10 years. This is because your capabilities, your thinking, your attitudes can change after 10 years. So always keep provision for change. I would like to quote Architect Madura Prematilleke who said – ‘Build hope, not ambition - architecture should offer hope to grow, not be heavy with ambition”.

Simplicity and minimalism

Weerasekara added that for him everyone is a unique client. As far as we know there has never quite been a person like you in history. There is no one like you in the present and there will be no one quite like you in the future. That is the challenge he is confronted with. That is why every house an architect designs is unique. Weerasekara respects every client. But what he really tries to do is give them what they need which may be different from what they want. He added that basically he loves all his clients and loves to work with them.

“I do believe in simplicity and minimalism. I think simplicity and minimalism is a must for any building. People do complicated houses when they want to show off. But I think that actually what people need is something simple,” said Weerasekara.

Long process

He went onto explain that building a house is a long process. What you see as a house is the final product. But for Weerasekara it’s a process from day one, from the moment a client walks in through the door up to the time he/she moves into the house.

“From the inception after a careful analysis of the client, site and functions we make sure the original concept is there throughout the building process. So for me it’s a team work. The Architect will lead the team with the other stakeholders of the project such as the client, the structural engineer, quantity surveyor, contractors and various other personalities. So if the process is right there will be no mistakes. That is my experience. The architect makes sure that he fulfills the client’s requirements – budget, time and quality. For me the process is so important,” said Weerasekara.