Jayakody House
Colombo, Sri Lanka
The Jayakody house was designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa for Dulanjalee Jayakody, the daughter of President Premedasa, and her husband Rohan Jayakody. The house was commissioned in 1991 and construction was completed in 1996. The Jayakodys desired a home that could promote rest and tranquility in the midst of a high-intensity urban setting, and Bawa's innovative design ultimately provided such a retreat.

The Jayakody house is located approximately 500 meters south of Beira Lake in Colombo. The house is sited on an irregularly-shaped lot on a small cul-de-sac that extends eastward from the adjacent and perpendicular Park Street. The lot is consistently eighteen meters wide east to west, parallel to the cul-de-sac. The depth of the parcel is highly variable; the plot is thirty meters deep along its western edge, fourteen meters deep at its center, and nineteen meters deep along its eastern edge. The profile of the northern edge of the property angles sharply to accommodate the irregular parcel layout of the triangular block. The western edge of the parcel is rotated thirty-two degrees from the north-south meridian.

Bawa's design works well within the constraints of the asymmetry and compactness of the project site. By constructing a tall wall around the perimeter of the site, Bawa isolates the residence from its immediate context and creates a peaceful retreat for the homeowners. The plan of the residence at the ground level covers almost the entire footprint of the site, with small courtyard spaces at the entry along the south elevation, filling the sliver of space between the northern edge of the house and the angular boundary wall. The living spaces of the first floor feature expansive glass walls and doors that look out onto the narrow courtyards and the boundary walls beyond. The lack of a view beyond the site, as well as the fact that all daylight enters overhead and not from the sides, gives the impression that the entirety of the lower level was constructed underground.

The first floor of the residence is nearly as large in area as the ground floor, housing the main family bedrooms. The enclosed area of the second floor is substantially smaller, as much of that level is devoted to a large terrace and shaded loggia. The third floor is home to a swimming pool and rooftop terrace. A decorative spiral staircase in a large iron cage clings to the exterior of the house, winding upward between the second and third level terraces. This stairway is visible from the street, becoming a distinctive decorative feature on the otherwise subdued southern elevation.

Typical of Bawa's later works, the articulation of this residence is fairly minimalistic. The building is a beige concrete structure with rich red wooden doors and windows marking its openings. There are a handful of decorative elements—painted wooden garage doors, a teal wooden entrance gate with a decorative carved transom panel, and the birdcage-like exterior iron stair—scattered throughout an otherwise understated home.

The Jayakody house can be categorized as a tower-courtyard-house hybrid, the fusion of two of the residential building types with which Bawa experimented most often. This building was designed late in Bawa's career, and its carefully choreographed progression of spaces and elegant integration of modernist and regional architectural influences speak to the sophistication of an architect who had refined his design philosophy over decades of practice.

Sources:

Robson, David. 2002. Geoffrey Bawa: The Complete Works. London: Thames & Hudson, 221.
Location
Park Street, Union Place, Colombo, Sri Lanka
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Associated Names
Events
1991-1996
Variant Names
Jayakody House
Building Usages
private residence
residential