locally sourced bricks and natural timber infuse elevated hotel in sri lanka with nature

locally sourced bricks and natural timber infuse elevated hotel in sri lanka with nature

Amila Ruwan Liyanapathirana designs ‘Moksha’ hotel IN sri lanka 


Architect Amila Ruwan Liyanapathirana has designed the ‘Moksha’ boutique hotel in the small town of Kitulgala, Sri Lanka. Consisting of guestrooms, a restaurant, and a bar overlooking a giant fishpond, the Moksha ( derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘to be free’) provides luxurious comfort and gives guests the opportunity to experience the subtle nuances of nature. The exterior structure and ambiance of the hotel blend seamlessly into the natural landscape, as the design incorporates locally sourced bricks and reclaimed natural timber to form the permeable facade which sits above an open living area.

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the ‘Moksha’ hotel in Kitulgala, Sri Lanka

all images courtesy of Amila Ruwan Liyanapathirana



hotel design CLAIMS self-sustaining design strategies


Throughout the implementation phase, architect Amila Ruwan Liyanapathirana focused on self-sustaining design strategies that enhance the site’s natural environment. Every single existing element was reused throughout the construction phase. Value from context is high; natural wood and brick from the area and local craftsmanship are used from design to operation, saving time and additional expenses. It took nearly a year to prepare the site for construction, as it was full of boulders that are always encountered near natural waterways and forests.


Local craftsmen were especially called upon to meet this challenge, as the topography is rich in natural rocks and heavy slopes. Located at the innermost edge of the private forest, guests are offered the soothing experience of driving through verdant forest yards to reach the house. The visitors are first surrounded by greenery and then greeted by the sculpture of an eagle welcoming them. The eagle, a symbol of freedom and perseverance, gives a first indication of the stay in Moksha, Kitulgala. The material of the eagle sculpture and the colors that embody the rustic – sienna, dark goldenrod, saddle brown and many other shades of the rustic palette – embody the tranquility of nature.

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the design incorporates a permeable wooden facade



wood plays a structural and stylistic role


As the guests arrive at the lobby, they are offered the comfortable contrast of a wide area to relax and stretch themselves after being cooped in a small space. The facade is wooden, and so is the majority of furniture in the lobby. The wood is repurposed from the limited number of trees that were essential to be removed to make space for the construction. Putting the sustainable design strategies into practice, the architect has utilized these wooden planks in producing the facade and furniture, and the balance requirement has been locally sourced without any damage to the surrounding rainforest. 


The familiar, brown hues of nature prominent in the lobby merge the building further with the context it is borne out of, and the natural materials utilized help keep the atmosphere comfortable at all times. From the onset, the architect sought the support of local craftspeople and builders. Though it has been challenging to elaborate the architectural nuances of each and every detail, working with the local expertise has helped bring a rich local flavor to the concept, adopting sustainability and adapting to the context, keeping nature’s presence always at its most vibrant across the entire hotel. 

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the elevated breathable structure is made of repurposed wood



wood plays a structural and stylistic role


The guestrooms, the restaurant, and the bar are all housed in a single three-story building. The rectangular structure is placed parallel to the natural stream, Liyan Oya, that flows right next to the property and the edge of the deep woods on the other side. The structure’s angularity does not jut out as an anomaly in the landscape. The parallel placement allows the boutique hotel to blend into the landscape as if it were the most natural phenomenon to have a man-made structure within the jungle. Located on a corner of the construction, and on top of each other, the bar and restaurant share a wide view that spans 270 degrees to immerse the guests in the surrounding nature. 


The earthy tones that the architect has chosen for the exterior and the semi-external furniture embody the woodland with their deep browns, brick reds, and burnt yellows. Even the modern pool is laid with green tiles as a safety precaution, for it is used both day and night, serving the additional purpose of blending into the natural landscape. While the common areas, such as the bar and restaurant, feature white lighting in metal shades that look like rattan, the stairwells and lounges feature brilliant chandeliers that add a yellow and white combination to the room. However, as the day dawns, pure sunlight streams into the building, as all the open areas and the eight rooms are built facing the east. 

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natural light through the wooden structure

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furniture blends with the natural surroundings

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natural materials help keep the atmosphere comfortable at all times

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seamless regeneration in the jungle 8


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project info:


name: Boutique Hotel Project
designer: Amila Ruwan Liyanapathirana

location: Kitulgala, Sri Lanka



designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: zaha mango | designboom


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