Cocoon, the Head Office of Sumanagiri Lanka, sits on a sprawling two and a half acre rubber estate in Kalalgoda, a mere seven and a half kilometres from the ever bustling city of Colombo. Unencumbered by the constraints present in an urban setting such as congestion, limited space and pollution, the structure spreads its wings in this suburban context posing an ideal environment to work in.
Built conforming to the latest principles of design where the majority of the materials used to create the structure can be re-used, the design takes an unassuming air blending perfectly with the rubber trees that encircle it. Embodying a resort feel, both inside and outside, the building attempts to capture the ambience present at Cocoon Resorts immersing one in the midst of a relaxed atmosphere devoid of the usual apprehensiveness tha characterises a corporate setting.
“When designing this building careful consideration and thought were given to create an office in a suburban serene environment,” said Archt. Migara Alwis, Director, Design Consortium. “We have brought in the feel of leisure staying true to the corporate theme of Sumanagiri Lanka. However, I faced certain difficulties in creating an urban concept in a suburban context.”
Constructed using pre-engineered steel, the building was fabricated offsite and then assembled at site taking care not to disturb the environment by cutting down even a single tree. Rising to four floors, the structure is hued in white, effortlessly melding into the backdrop of the rubber trees where leaves change colour during the course of the year. Green tinted glass windows offer a mirror like quality reflecting the surrounding natural environment.
When designing this building careful consideration and thought were given to create an office in a suburban serene environment
As such the glass serves to camouflage the building to some extent while the heat absorbing quality reduces the energy wastage as well. White columns with circular openings create a pattern that serves to give a more slender impression fused with delicacy and transparency. “We have incorporated the columns as a part of the architectural character of the building and have used the circular motif to take the deadweight out, creating a solid and void feel,” explained Archt. Migara.
The aspect of light and shade has been utilised artfully throughout the premises where the sunlight is filtered through pergolas and eaves while the availability of light on each floor varies with the time of the day. Furthermore, careful attention has been put forth in conserving energy and optimising all materials used in the design.
Stepping inside, one will at once be transported to a world that is more reminiscent of a resort as a sense of spaciousness and tranquillity is highlighted through the structure’s composition. Inside one can witness the painstaking detail placed in amalgamating the natural and built environments. Similar to the outside where one can gaze up to the towering rubber trees, inside the first three storeys rise up creating a triple height void while the canopy created by rubber trees resonate through the large overhangs of the building.
“There is a smooth transitioning where the environment and the building complement each other. It tries to capture both the inside and outside to create a harmony between the built and the natural environment,” affirmed Archt. Migara.
The first floor opens up to a reflector pond located outside amidst a wooden deck where a dandelion water fountain creates a ball of water depicting the florets of a dandelion flower. Composed of simple cut cement with a slight titanium mix to convey a greyish hue that perfectly mingles with the white surroundings, this floor is utilised as a multi-purpose space while if the necessity arises one can even steer a vehicle inside. A spiralling staircase leads to the upper floors and skylights are located directly above as a mode of maximising the usage of natural light. Offices are situated in the second and third floors and all floors resemble a hotel lobby with comfy chairs and tables heightening the relaxed atmosphere.
Each floor opens up to a terrace or a verandah equipped with ample space that can even be used to hold meetings while each office has a balcony inviting the employees to take a break from their busy schedules to enjoy the surrounding environs. From one side the views of the rubber estate and from another the outlook of the Colombo cityscape and the setting sun in the afternoon allow one to immerse in the joy that the built and the natural environment draw together.
The topmost floor with a footprint of 1,500 square feet is dedicated as the Chairman’s office. Wooden tones incorporated with white, poses an extensive space where the concept of a hotelier’s office is brought to life. An enchanting feature is the usage of the granite named baltic blue that glimmers like a gazillion blue sapphires as light hits its dark surface.
“First three levels are very flexible and we have captured the surrounding views of the spectacular site to achieve the desired effect,” said Archt Migara. “The contemporary philosophy of green building design has been incorporated fully with every component of the building. It is a true showpiece of accomplishment portraying a balance between the aesthetic and the rigidity of the pre-engineered steel structure.”
Sumanagiri Lanka depicts the future where amiable designs will be the character of a sector portrayed with rigidity showcasing a transformation of ideals that is poised to arrive.