Just above a beautiful little palm-fringed surfers’ beach on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, Mond (German for moon) is a new four-room hotel with real pull.
Masterminded by Jessica Fernando and Renato Kümin, who upped sticks from Zürich to be closer to the ocean and to pursue a more socially and ecologically sustainable lifestyle, the property is, says Fernando,
‘a place for people to connect, experience and co-create. It is not an ordinary hotel.’
With that in mind, the duo tasked Zürich-based architects Daniel Abraha and Stephan Achermann to create a building that aligned with both their principles and their needs.
The result is an interesting contemporary take on the Tropical Modernism style of legendary Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. The challenge, say the architects, has been to ‘create an architecture that does not simply copy local building traditions, but understands and reinterprets the underlying architectural principles and translates them into a new, contemporary and independent architectural statement.’ The hotel was built using modern Swiss architecture staples – wood and exposed concrete – by local tradespeople, which meant the builders needed to learn as much about Swiss-style in-situ concrete casting as the architects did about local climate.
The design ‘treats outdoor and indoor spaces equally’, says Abraha. It explores spatial thresholds and also reflects the local climate: there are openings everywhere to allow in the Indian Ocean breezes in summer, while in monsoon season, the rain flows through the little atria and terraces and away across the natural stone floors. There is no glass anywhere; instead of windows, there are floor-to-ceiling openings with wooden, wind-permeable shutters that can be closed for privacy. There are four guest rooms, which all come with private terraces and open bathrooms sporting rain showers.
Mond supports an artists’ residency programme, and there is also a courtyard café and rooftop bar offering spectacular views of the bay, the sea and, at night, the moon, from which this little Tropical Modernist paradise takes its name. The public spaces double as co-working spaces and will, in the future, host workshops, performances and architectural experiments. ‘Mond is open to both visitors and the local community alike,’ says Fernando.§