Following the submission of masterplans for the 'Egypt' island as part of the Dubai World project, developers were struck by DOS's innovative approach and asked us to propose a further set of plans for Sri Lanka, along a similar design brief. With only hours to prepare an initial concept, we were struck immediately by the conceptual promise of the distinctive mandala form - a central symbol of Hindu spiritual and religious practise. The mandala invokes (def. Wikipedia) 'a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective'; a seemingly apt description of the entire Dubai World project. The mandala, and similarly the lotus- a dual motivic source - are intended to invoke a trance-like state of deep peace and meditation, through geometric unity in symmetry. Sri Lankan society today is comprised of a vibrant mixture of faiths and cultures, predominantly Buddhist but with a strong Hindu presence; a balance expressed elegantly through this confident double symbology.
Both psychologically and physically, our proposal draws from the ideas of unity (in the mandala's repeated geometry) and of duality (in land and sea / in the superimposed, double-mandala form), creating a form which emanates, lotus-like, from a central raised area down to the sea-view housing below. The self-replicating interior elements and concentric gestures of the island's plan generate a centrifugal forcefield, directed outwards towards the sea, where each individual residence enjoys privacy through the lotus's distinct petals; here converted to miniature, personalised coves. At the heart of the lotus - the conjunction point between the two mandalas - a harbour penetrates into the island, deriving shelter from the surrounding bay, whilst creating its own, miniature mandala-form through the arrangement individual mooring platforms. In this way, the original symbolic motifs of mandala-lotus provide a thorough unifying logic for the island, both aesthetically and functionally, whilst determinedly avoiding more simplistic, pastiche-based evocations of Sri Lankan culture and landscape.