FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW

Lavan's Studio Apartment by MMGS Architects

When it comes to the scope of cultural living and identifying a city through the culture of its community, the nuances are reflected in its origins and patterns, symbolic visual motifs applied in its architecture. How does one identify a space unique to that specific culture? By discerning the cityscape’s cultural footprint and the identities of its community. With the arrival of urban gentrification and the metropolitan development, it is easy to notice a space losing its identity and building in uniformity. How does a space retain its cultural personality yet change to improve to the developing urbanscape? Lavan’s Studio Apartment by Godridge Samuel, owner of MMGS Architects, arose from the landscape of deteriorated elements and forgotten compartments. The area was initially set to be bull-dozed down to make way for gentrification.  

The elegant and refined studio apartment, dubbed ‘Hope’ to symbolize the idea of a ramshackle past that is renewed and revitalized, is situated in a rundown corner of an unkempt housing scheme near Beira Lake in Colombo. Although what you may see now exists a beautifully designed apartment, the space in actuality conceals what used to be oozing sewers, blackened walls, water clogs and broken doors; found in complete disarray and disrepair, the restoration process involved fixing leaking pipes, replacing old drain lines and paving the main pathway of the housing scheme, that benefit the whole neighbourhood. Signifying ‘hope’, this deteriorating settlement was salvaged from the broken. 

MMGS Architects, an establishment founded by Chartered Architect Godridge Samuel in 1998 is a practice that aims to achieve excellence by producing unique designs through creativity which reflects individuality of both client and practice and provide them with a simple and minimalistic architectural spaces. MMGS Architects has also designed and constructed award winning residences such as Pia’s Villa, Samuel House, White House and more. Godridge Samuel is a graduate of the University of Moratuwa and completed his BSc. (Built Environment) & MSc in Architecture in 1991 receiving the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects Award for highest overall marks obtained at MSc. final examination and Geoffrey Bawa Award for obtaining highest marks for the Comprehensive Design Project at MSc final examination. The architect obtained corporate membership at Sri Lanka Institute of Architects in 1992 and was admitted to Fellow Membership in 2003. 

Introducing a contemporary Sri Lankan Architectural style for the revamped apartment, its materials and finishes merged rustic surfaces to exist alongside a modern outlook presented through materials like glass and aluminium. In reconstructing the rundown studio apartment, the renovation focused on metamorphosing and broken down hollow into a one bedroom apartment that entailed a singular space for sleeping, cooking and dining while utilizing the medium of levels to differentiate each activity within the space. The simple dialect of the architectural style was achieved through sophisticated planning of building services and spatial articulation.

The modern bedroom in Lavan's Apartment Colombo 03, depicts how modern day living and a minimal setting can be intertwined with your spiritual and cultural values to provide a sense of uniqueness and allow you to build a personal connection to your inner self within your home. This revamped studio apartment shows us a beautiful space that has amplified light and ventilation with a modern interpretation of simplicity along with harmonious tones of grey cement and bold blue cabinetry. It became a complete turnover from the ramshackle past of deterioration to a cozy apartment of rest. Converting the rear space of the apartment into a courtyard beautified with plants such as the ‘Dan’ tree (Syzygium caryophyllatum) allowed more natural light to enter, opening up space for ventilation into the interior spaces much unlike the previous design that had shut itself off from the environment and surroundings.  

The older dwelling was an obtrusion in and of itself, blocking natural light and ventilation from the interior spaces, a living room that opened directly to the main pathway of the house comprising security and privacy – appearing congested and obstructed, the space defied a concept for typical habitability. A reconstructed dwelling is unique in its identity that it holds the roots of old architectural plans and retains its personality while evolving to fit and grow with the developing world. The tenements marked to be run-down and bulldozed to make way for gentrification are still spaces that hold beauty; the architects at MMGS have taken this beauty to create a newer space sans its look and deteriorating evidences, unveiling an idea of itself where spaces such as these could still be revived to make way for cleaner, more beautiful neighbourhoods without driving out the existing personalities. 

Through introducing and renovating a few miscellaneous alterations, the aesthetic created ends up being diverse and lends a clearer palate to perceive and exist in.  The project, Lavan’s Studio Apartment by Godridge Samuel of MMGS Architects thrived on the aesthetic of ‘slum dwellings’ that had multifaceted elevations and nuanced sections, while adding to the morphology of the neighbourhood with its teal blue colour palate, and artistically placed grill gate. This renovation and recreation stands to show and present the idea of self-gentrification, a notion that promotes the concept of re-imagining a deteriorating settlement into a better, more creatively conceived residence. 

Image courtesy : Ramitha Watareka 

22nd March, 2021 Applied Art

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