Regenerated line house in the former tea plantatio

Regenerated line house in the former tea plantation area of Sri Lanka

Toru OBA Architects as Architects

This project focuses on hidden history of the world-famous tea you drink in daily life.


Sri Lanka is world-famous for Ceylon tea, the export amount of which used to be the first of the world. However, the people who support the tea as labor are not well-known to the world. They are Tamil people, immigrants from South India, who are neither British people nor Sri Lankan people. The aim of this project is to revitalize a village, Bawlana village, where Tamil people have been living for 130 years, through support from architecture because they have been marginalized and poor since tea plantation here got closed about 30 years ago.


We have regenerated a row house called “line house” in Bawlana. Although 1/3 of it used to be lost before the construction, it becomes a base of local tourism the attractive points of which are the history, the culture and the nature of Bawlana. Line houses in Bawlana consist of characteristic elements which are derived from 3 countries related to tea plantation. They are steel frames made in Britain 130 years ago, local granite and veranda space often seen in houses of Sri Lanka, and floor covered with cowpat closely connected with a ceremony of Hinduism from India(Most of Sri Lankan people are Buddhist). The line houses represent the complex history of Tamil people and seem to be the basis of their identity.


We planed the regeneration by two methods, namely, restoring parts of the original house and recomposing the characteristic elements so that the composition of it becomes seen more clearly.


Line houses in the former tea plantation area are often regarded as “negative heritage” in Sri Lanka. However, if the history of Bawlana and Tamil’s life and culture are appraised from various viewpoints, it will be power of drawing the future of Bawlana. We believe that this regeneration will make a chance of it and this regenerated line house will be a place where a new history of Bawlana will be born.

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