Harding Boutique Hotel is Sri Lanka’s Tropical Modernist Haven

April 4, 2022



Carisa Magno

The bid to include local heritage, nature, and minimalist design often makes the architectural scene vibrant. This is true in every equatorial retreat. Ahangama Sri Lanka is no exception. Harding Boutique Hotel stands here. Holiday destinations are time and again abundant with architecture that recurrently includes wide-open spaces, an attribute of tropical modernism.

Tropical modernism is unique to the island of Sri Lanka, a term attributed to the country’s most famous architect Geoffrey Bawa. This is the central concept of the hotel. Sri Lankan-Australian hotelier Paul Harding owns Harding Boutique Hotel. His great uncle Gem Milhuisen is one of the pioneers in Sri Lanka’s tourism. The uncle commissioned Geoffrey Bawa to build Blue Lagoon in Negombo a major city in Sri Lanka. It was Geoffrey’s first project in the country, referred to as the father of Sri-Lankan modernist architecture. Building the hotel, Anarchitect studio put high regard on this rich history. This Dubai-based firm is led by the power couple Jonathan and Militza Ashmore.

The contemporary tropical modernist hotel has 5 floors that house 6 suites, surrounded by palm trees in front of an untouched beach. All the spaces are of local hardwood, polished concrete, and granite stone. Sri Lankan details are clear-cut throughout the design. Evenly spaced wood slats form the facade. The polished concrete walls create a vibe of purity. Mix-use of timber and concrete consumes the floor thereby creating a native character in the spaces.

Every suite has a private balcony and a private bath. Both of which overlook the Indian Ocean. Adorned with floor-to-ceiling windows the modern design offers a broad ocean view. The hotel has a ground floor swimming pool, top-notch al fresco dining, and a lounge for that extraordinary Sri Lankan holiday experience.

Ultimately, the builders take pride in the ocean-breeze ventilated open staircase situated in the middle. It frames the surrounding scenery in between grids as you take each step. There are spaces in between mid landing where guests can stop and admire nature. It is a conscious effort by the architects in their bid to bring awareness and connect the guests with organic nature and climate.

“This purity and simplicity embedded within the architecture that brings this heightened sense of awareness and connection to nature and the climate, together with the way the building utilizes these natural energies and either frames them or channels them into the interiors, is what I believe upholds the legacy of tropical modernism.”

Jonathan Ashmore
-Anarchitect Studio

Photo Credits: Edmund Sumner

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