Architectural Appreciation of Plantation Bungalows

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2:0 Architectural Appreciation of plantation bungalows.

2:1 Characteristics of British period architecture in plantation bungalows.

The unique character of "Bengali huts" laid the foundation in the global production of bungalows. The oxford dictionary defines the word bungalows as a house having a veranda all round. Recording to other definitions "bungalow" as a house with low drooping roof, with a verandah on one or three of its side. As stated before the definitions says each old plantation bungalows have a running verandah surrounding the rooms, with drooping roof. Sri Lankan architecture faced an evolution after the country being a colony. As a result the residential buildings as bungalows were attached to the Sri Lankan architecture.

At the very early period the bungalows were built to cater to British planters. The British period Architecture can be categorized into two groups as follows,

1) Dutch copious architecture

2) British bought architecture

The second type again can be categorized in to four groups.

1) Domestic architecture

2) Administrative

3) Commercial and industries

4) Residential buildings

a) House

b) Bungalows

Again the bungalows can be categorized in to another two groups.

a) Castle type bungalows

b) Home type bungalows9


The main aims of the bungalows were provide the maximum comfort to the occupants. The hill country bungalows were very unique as they catered the British planters. The plantation bungalows were miniatures of the British domestic houses. It is very clear that the British architecture can be fixed in to hill country without any change because the climate of the hill country is so familiar with their mother land. Solid walls, Fireplace, Chimney, Wooden floors, Doors and windows are the prominent architectural features of the British period plantation bungalows. These bungalows commonly had large garden with spectacular landscaping. That was the major architectural feature of those bungalows which added the royalty to the place. This conveys the indirect massage of discouraging the people who approach the place. Most of the houses have a large enclosed verandah for the outer community. It expressed the attitude of higher degree of social integration and it created a place for meeting both superior and equals. The front verandah serves as a sight out, it is also to create link between indoors, and outer garden and it provides a panoramic view of the lawn and garden surrounding the bungalow.

The British and locals had contact with minor community only at the level of service and no doors opened from the front for them. The bungalows have kitchen and servants quarters as separate buildings. The only access to the minor community who had the contacts with the inhabitance was through the rear, or the back verandah. Such architecture of the domestic buildings always expresses the power, prestige, wealth and the social stability of the inhabitants.

In order to establish the glandular look ornamentation of architectural elements such as doors, window openings, balconies, verandahs and porches have been integrated with the design of the building. Decorative doors and window openings in domestic buildings could be identified sharply, catching one s eye, and would also result in enhancing the value of building.

2:2 Analysis of the house from in relation to the socio-cultural background during the period.

2:2:1 Hierarchy of the house form.

There are different theories about house form such as climatic needs, materials, construction methodologies, site conditions, economy and culture. But it is important that there can be different house forms of different communities.

Consequently there is no key factor that determine the house form. The house forms can be differing from country to country. The culture of a society is the way of life of the people who belongs to the society. The foundation of a culture extends up to the time of the formation of that society. This culture could be name as an "indigenous culture" which was completely free from any foreign influence. It can be observe that the house forms also are unique and well harmonized with the culture and give a common identity to the society.

British house type was very popular in Sri Lanka than Dutch house type. The Dutch houses spread only in the hill country as well as in the low country areas. It shows in different scales depending on various physical factors since the British were able to capture and rule the whole country. Therefore most of the time owners of the bungalows were estate planters or Governmental officers. The buildings of plantation sector can be classified as follows.


Some cases of the use of color also help to identify the structure of the buildings.

1) Manager/Assistant manager - Green colored roof

2) Staff - Red colored roof

3) Workers - Black colored roof

Considering the manager's or assistant manager's residents gives a real idea of the British plantation Bungalows in the hill country.

2:2:2 Orientation and Location

The British or the "sudda" were the main dominant character of the society that ordinary locals were offers during the colonial period. In addition, some locals achieved the same status of the British that highlighted from the Sri Lankan society. Hence, one of the main aims of this class was getting the same respect from the society. Therefore, expression of the source was a more important factor than comfort. Consequently, they used various methods to express their status. The visibility of the bungalow was a very important factor for this purpose. The location and orientation has played major role in this respect since then. Bungalows have very difficult access way and most of the bungalows are located on high elevations. The access way runs around the mountain by showing and hiding the bungalow, which is far away from the main road. The entrance way is the most prominent feature in such bungalows. There can see bridges across the approach ways. In few occasions panorama has framed in such places as waterfalls, streams etc: in some cases, the bungalows are located closer to the other important buildings such has factory and the office. When approaching there is a considerable distance from the main road to the bungalow. The path way goes around the bungalow with lots of runs. It emphasized the difficult to approachability for the ordinary people. However, there was an open view of the bungalow from the road. In some cases, the bungalow was located at the highest point of the land facing to the road. The front garden was located at very low grown, formal and sysmmetrically landscape which gives a good look to the place. The planters gave more attention to the landscaping and most of the bungalows were always located very isolated manner. Nevertheless, each of them has visual link with other buildings that belongs to the same class.

2:2:3 Plan configuration

When designing a plantation bungalow, the designer or the architect have to pay more attention to the plan form, orientation, location, climate and activity pattern of the building. Therefore the bungalow itself functions and contains dignity and appreciates beauty. Most of the tea bungalows were built 50-80 years ago. In addition, most of the tea bungalows that built at the colonial period were boxy with high pitcher roof and they should not consist of modern architectural features. Tea bungalows built out of wooden floors, Seasoned timber tiles covered roofs and stone-bricked walls. Other than in some cases asbestos sheets or iron sheets used for roofs too. Prosperity and the status of the owner was emphasized by the size of the bungalow. Most of the managers bungalows has 4500-8000 ft2 floor area and most of the assistance managers bungalows has 2500-3000 ft2 floor area. Such a large space provided to give the planter enough elbow space for respectable living. Normally manager's bungalows have 3-4 bedrooms. Those rooms were very large in their size and they were more than the requirement. Also there can see bungalows with more than 8 bedrooms. The boundary wall, two gateways and the front garden were very closely connected to the house form. The gate was made of timber or iron. The gate provided a visual link to the access road and car porch. The access road and the porch, acts as an invitation to a particular class of people, while the gate acts as a barrier to the house. The car porch is the symbol, which shows the ownership of a vehicle. That increased the status of the planter at the colonial period. Generally, the plantation bungalows have 20% - 35% of the built up area covered by the enclosed verandah. This type of verandah around the house helped to keep doors and windows open all the time in cool humid weather. Therefore, the bungalows had excellent air circulation through whole year. The front verandah used as a site out and side verandah used as an area for cloth line still continuous in most places. In addition, the planters spent their leisure times in the verandah by reading, relaxing or meeting visitors. The living room used only in very specific occasions that could b identify as formal occasions. The planters life fulfilled with parties get together and other various ceremonies. Therefore, they designed massive scaled living rooms that are connected to the dining area. It can be identified as the living areas combined to the dining areas through arches. That provided considerable floor area to the above mentioned functions. Arches only act as visual divisions.

In some instance, two large door openings provided required amount of light and ventilation to living and dining areas. Naturally drift wood and many brass artifacts are find in the living areas. Fireplace, luxurious furniture arrangements, comfortable carpets are some common features of the typical living areas in plantation bungalows. Following features are the common features of most plantation bungalows.


The fireplace is a common feature in plantation bungalows. Those fireplace were placed at the Sitting, Dinning & bed rooms in plantation bungalows. Obviously the entire arrangement and furniture of the room revolved around the fireplace. All those fireplaces were connected to one, two or four chimneys. The chimney is most dominant character in each plantation bungalow which adds a qualitative attribute to the structure.


The bungalow kitchen

The kitchen in most plantation bungalows were located separately from the main block. Such distance was provided to prevent fire spreading at emergency. In addition, this type of separated kitchen helps to keep smoke away from the main area. Servants based household working also required the servants to be away from the bungalow. There is a corridor connected to kitchen that could be functioned independently. Yet, in some places there are no any cover or connection to the kitchen, the cooks had to carry foods under an umbrella in rainy days.

The pantry

The importance of a pantry increased with the distance of the kitchen. It was known as "Bottle room" in tea bungalows. It served to lay and decorate food bought from the kitchen. Most of the pantries consisted an opening to serve foods to the dining room.

The Geysers/Boiler

F:\Supun\Essay\DCIM\121___11\IMG_1018.JPGThe geyser or the boilers were also significant characteristic of the plantation bungalows. The planters used wood or coal for these boilers and there was a hot water connection to each water supply. Geysers were placed outside the bathroom or over the ceiling. In addition, separate Geyser rooms were available double up as drying rooms for wet clothes and shoes in monsoon months.

Bathrooms and Toilets

F:\Supun\Essay\DCIM\121___11\IMG_1049.JPGThe plantation bungalows had massive scaled bathrooms with luxurious equipments as bathtubs etc: Most of the times, the master bedroom had attached bathroom and in some cases, there were two rooms connected to the Bathroom. Bathroom design of the plantation bungalows consisted of backdoor to facilitate servant's access and drying the surface.

The Courtyard

The plantation bungalows were consisted of middle outer courtyard. There are well design as gardens. Most of them located at the rear side of the house and it is very clear that lot of verandahs built around that. So all the services were provided through this courtyard. And also they used these courtyards to get more light for interior spaces.

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