The architecture of Sri Lanka displays a rich variety of architectural forms and styles. Buddhism had a significant influence on Sri Lankan architecture, since it was introduced to the island in 3rd Century BCE. However techniques and styles developed in Europe and the Asia have also played a major role in the architecture of Sri Lanka.
The earliest evidence of cave temples are found in Mihintale. A unique feature in these caves was the use of a drip ledge carved along the top edge of the rock ceiling which stopped rain water running into the cave. With time doors, windows and walls of brick or stone were added. The roof and walls were plastered white and finished with decorative paintings, these are evident in the cave temples of Dambulla.
Dagodas and Stupas
The dagobas or stupas are distinctive for many reasons. They are probably the largest brick structures known to the pre-modern world. Dagobas were built to enshrine relics. They were constructed according to strict specifications. Entrances to stupas were laid out so that their centre lines pointed to the relic chambers. The bricks were bonded together using clay slurry, called butter clay. This was composed of finely crushed dolomite limestone mixed with sieved sand and clay.The stupa was thereafter covered with a coating of lime plaster.
With the arrival of Western colonists to Sri Lanka, a new forms of architecture were established. This is evident in the architecture of the period as well as in forms on influence in modern architecture.
Very few buildings of the Portuguese era survives, but many building from the Dutch era could be found on the coastal parts of the island. For example, the old town of Galle and its fortifications built by the Dutch in the year 1663 make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many British-era buildings can be found at Colombo Fort and various other parts of Colombo.
Many important historic buildings were built by the colonial governments. These were often built in a European architectural style that was in fashion at the time, such as the Palladian, Renaissance Classicism, or Neo-classical styles.
In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, architects like Geoffrey Bawa were leading trends in what is today known globally as ‘Tropical Modernism’. The style emphasizes bringing together elements from different times and places in order to create something new and original, with a local aesthetic. Bawa has had a tremendous influence on design and construction in Sri Lanka and many of his trademark embellishments have now become typical in Sri Lankan homes and buildings. The boundaries between indoors and outdoors are often erased, moved, or made more subtle, in Bawa’s work. Older Sri Lankan influences, like reflecting pools, colonnaded passages, and terra-cotta-tiled roofs, are fused with the modernist emphasis of flowing spaces and clean lines. Archtiects, like Channa Daswatte, continue to design in this style, paying close attention to how the designed environment interacts with the climate and the needs of the users.
By the 2000s and 2010s, there is also a presence of postmodernism, creating modern monumental architecture, through the incorporation of historical Sri Lankan cultural elements to convey meaning and context. The Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre, the Altair Residential Towers, the Krrish Square and ITC Colombo One have postmodern architectural designs.
By the 2010s the idea of Sustainable architecture has appeared in Sri Lanka, the 186m(610 ft) tall Clear point Residencies building which is expected to be the world`s tallest vertical garden and use harvested rainwater, recycled bathroom sink and shower water with a Drip-Irrgation system to water the plants. The plants naturally cool the buildings and clean the air thus reducing the need for air conditioning.0