Located in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, Kandalama Hotel was commissioned as an accommodation facility for tourists visiting the ancient city of Sigiriya. The Aitken Spence Hotel Group initially planned to build the hotel adjacent to the rock fortress of Sigiriya. However, its architect Geoffrey Bawa insisted on leaving eleven kilometers between the fortress and the hotel to protect the archaeological site’s immediate surroundings. Nevertheless, the rock fortress of Sigiriya is still visible across the horizon of Kandalama Lake.
One of the most interesting features of the Kandalama Hotel is its cave-like entrance. The hotel wraps around a cliff that angles down towards the western entrance, thus forming a tunnel-like passage for the tourists.
The hotel consists of three primary sections clinging to a steep rock cliff. The center of the complex contains shared facilities including pools, restaurants, and the lobby while the east and southwest wings contain the guest rooms. The east wing is also known as the Sigiriya wing as it stretches 100 meters towards the east and offers a view of the ancient fortress.
Built between 1991 and 1994, the hotel is one of Bawa’s earliest attempts towards minimalism which brings the topography to the foreground. Besides topography, Bawa also keeps the climate of the land in mind while coming up with a design. Accordingly, he designed flat roofs for the hotel as it is more appropriate for the dry zone of central Sri Lanka. Other design elements are also harmonious with nature in terms of color as well as material. These materials include white concrete walls, black columns, and wood or iron railings and millwork.