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Kithul Ami: A Sri Lankan Twist Of Vine & Steel

Team Mojarto 6th Apr 2020

Driving the aesthetic towards a more minimalistic representation of architectural prowess, Kengo Kuma and Associates present the ‘KITHUL AMI’ pavilion designed to honour the Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa.

The shores of Bentota let the cool sea breeze waft into your imagination and tickle your senses as you take in the beauty of the KITHUL AMI pavilion. Honouring the architectural legacy of the late Geoffrey Bawa, who combined the principles of Modernism to create a more ‘Sri Lankan-esque’ style of building, the pavilion is a wonderful tribute.

Kengo Kuma and Associates, KITHUL AMI pavilion. Images courtesy of KKAA.

Kengo Kuma and Associates, KITHUL AMI pavilion. Images courtesy of KKAA.

Taking on the challenge of representing the local flavour and visual inspirations, Kengo Kuma and Associates (KKAA) decided to build an amorphous form that would essentially reflect the organic beauty of the land and the flexible philosophy of Geoffrey Bawa.

 Kengo Kuma and Associates, KITHUL AMI pavilion. Images courtesy of KKAA.

Kengo Kuma and Associates, KITHUL AMI pavilion. Images courtesy of KKAA.

The vines used are from the Kithul plant that are known to supply the famous ‘kithul jaggery’ and palm syrup, a staple in Sri Lankan homes. The structure itself is supported by steel mesh and is one continuous ribbon of plant vine that wraps around itself. Bringing to mind the mythology of the Ramayana, where Hanuman’s tail had grown so long that it was able to wrap around Ravana’s palace and cause absolute mayhem, this structure, however, has a much quieter and peaceful narrative. Avoiding sharpness and recti-linearity of any kind, the shape is inviting and reminiscent of a group of people sitting together, united in conversation.

Kengo Kuma and Associates, KITHUL AMI pavilion. Images courtesy of KKAA.

Kengo Kuma and Associates, KITHUL AMI pavilion. Images courtesy of KKAA.

As the waves of the structure fold and unfold gracefully, it is typical of Bawa’s vernacular style. The pavilion, gently woven with the history of the land and reflecting the kindness of its people, moves beyond its intended purpose to become a symbol of the coastal waters and the ‘softness’ of Bawa’s approach. The stories of land are perhaps woven just as tightly as the vines and create a lush backdrop for interpretation, inspiration and innovation.

 

 

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