Nestled on the slope of a valley, the terraced building that houses the spa at the Santani resort, seems to almost disappear into the terrain. One can be forgiven for missing the structure surrounded by lush greenery, for that was in fact Architect Thisara Thanapathy’s intention. “We wanted a non building situation. The challenge was to make you one with the environment. To frame and highlight the beauty of the environment you don’t show off yourself”.

Thanapathy’s design sees him shortlisted for the Geoffrey Bawa Award for Excellence in Architecture 2017. Having won the prestigious award back in 2011, he applied once again to share his experiences with others as well as take this as an opportunity to learn from his peers in the industry. Thanapathy explains that awards like the Bawa awards are important as they encourage architects to be more design-conscious– something he feels is lacking in our society, which has become myopic in its consumerist culture.

The Spa is the heart of the Santani Wellness Resort, the country’s only purpose built wellness resort. Built on a sprawling 48-acre estate in rural Werapitiya, the resort is just an hour’s drive from Kandy. The main complex which houses the reception and restaurant, along with the elevated chalets that dot the hillside are certainly eye catching. Their sleek minimalist design and luxurious feel have captured the imagination of many a foreign publication, from Vogue to the LA Times. ... Thanapathy admits that many people have been confused at his choice of submitting only the Spa for the award. “Most people ask why not the main building”. He explains that the spa, which some would consider a ‘non building’ due to its open and unimposing structure, can’t be fully appreciated by all. It challenges the concept of what a building is to those who have conditioned minds.