Pringiers House by Tadao Ando 17.08.11

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Japanese architect Tadao Ando's distinctive concrete craftsmanship has been used to dramatic effect on a house in south Sri Lanka. He is helped by a stunning cliff-top site, overlooking Mirissa Beach and a glittering Indian Ocean. Acquired by Pierre Pringiers, a Belgian entrepreneur and local factory owner, this rewarding location was never actually seen by Ando himself, who instead sent two collaborators, Kiyoshi Aoki and Yukio Tanaka, to scope out the site. The instructions of Ando in Osaka were carried out on site by Philip Weeraratne, founder of Sri Lankan firm PWA Architects, and his associate Ravindu Karunanayake. Between them, the two firms have succeeded in creating a complex and engaging building that unashamedly exploits its fortunate setting.

Ando designed the Pringiers House to frame and promote key views. However, the design not only defers to its picturesque surroundings but also focuses on creating varying internal spaces. These are rhythmically delineated by light and shade, plane and section, yet tied together by a consistent material language from a familiar Ando palette. To make sure this worked, Weeraratne and his team, including the concrete contractor, travelled to Japan to see some of Ando's work at first hand. The concrete used was mocked up in test structures to ensure it met the Japanese firm's exacting standards.

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A processional staircase forms the theatrical centre of the house. From here, three wings radiate out, projecting the bedrooms, dining room and artist's studio towards the coastal views. The double-height studio is particularly impressive, tapering to a striking vista – its tall, bare walls activated by the play of natural light. Weeraratne says that, of all the spaces, it is the most "characteristic 
of Ando's use of light on plane". That is not to say the rest of the structure lacks spectacle. A lower wing cuts a dramatic angle and leads up to a rooftop pool and cantilevered balcony; a 6m by 6m window at the end of this wing can be dropped down entirely in to 
the basement, opening up the dining room to the ocean.

Despite its obvious extravagances, a respectful attention to detail and simplicity in material choices allow this opulent building 
to sit comfortably in its surroundings.

 

Image

Edmund Sumner

 

Words

Tom Wright

quotes story

These are rhythmically delineated by light and shade, plane and section, yet tied together by a consistent material language from a familiar Ando palette

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