Rocell Canteen – Horana

Rocell Canteen – Horana

Project Description:

Project was to design a Canteen, Recreation and Restroom building for Royal Porcelain Factory in Horana in a newly acquired six (06) perch block of land adjoining the Factory Premises. The Building was designed capturing the architectural idiom of the Factory building itself with a monitor roof in the centre. Due to space constraints the building was to be two leveled. The resultant section designed with a monitor roof in the centre enabled the restrooms and recreation room to be located in the mezzanine level overlooking partly double height canteen area. Existing trees including a mature bread-fruit tree along the periphery were retained and steel column grid of the building was designed to mimic the surrounding trees and there intervals.


Materials, Construction & Structure:

The skeleton of the building was designed as a pre-fabricated steel structure with a pre cast ICC structural slab system mezzanine floor in the centre. Robust materials – cement louver blocks white plastered brick masonry walls and zinc aluminium roofing sheets are juxtaposed to stunning effect in the building. Foundation civil work component was completed before the prefabricated steel structure was transported and erected at site. Thereafter the pre cast mezzanine floor slab was installed on the ‘erected’ steel column and beam structure, followed by remaining civil works. Cement grill louver blocks were used extensively to facilitate cross ventilation and create required levels of privacy. Thin projecting RCC canopies, square louvered cement blocks, black painted roller steel joists (RSJ’s), chequered aluminium plated staircase ‘clothe’ the Canteen Recreation and Changing room building with a ‘second skin’ an exquisitely detailed cement louver block mask. Internal finishes are inexpensive hard wearing and low maintenance–homogeneous ceramic tiles (manufactured in the factory) on the lower and upper levels. Black Steel structural skeleton was contrasted with white interior walls due to hygiene reasons and exterior walls in grey green to merge with similar coloured factory buildings. Steel structural staircase was incorporated with bent and molded chequered aluminium sheets for tread and riser. Insulation pasted zinc aluminium roofing sheets were used for the wide projecting roof. Cement masonry built in seats were incorporated into the block-work half walls, in the recreation mezzanine floor – for the workers to use for a quick game of ‘carom’ or ‘cards’ during there short breaks. Projecting from the mezzanine floor and overlooking the wooded forecourt is an outdoor balcony protected by a thin RCC canopy.


Significance & Impact:

Canteen Building was conceived as a ‘Proto-type’ for a ‘Factory Canteen’ building with ability to replicate with ease using an architectural idiom merging with typical central monitor roofed factory buildings. It was an extension and development of the ‘Factory Section’, with the additional introduction of a mezzanine floor in the centre, creating increased privacy for worker recreation in the upper level mezzanine floor. It creates worker interaction between each level- workers who take meals in lower level canteen and workers who use the recreation room for a quick game of carom or cards during there short break from there hectic work schedules. The mezzanine is truly the ‘heart’ of the building, an informal area with views over the ground floor canteen dining area. Materials used are dominated by ‘steel’ in keeping with the commonly used materials in factory construction, due to there light weight nature and the speed of construction.
There is a confident grasp of spatial composition in the double height dining area, a space that is transformed in the morning breakfast time – rising sun turns the eastern cement louvered wall into a filigree of light. The interstitial spaces bring the different parts of the building into play with each other so that the workers always have a sense of what is going on in other parts of the building. The building ‘section’ takes precedence over the plan as the generator of building form and the basis of design thinking.
Life is reduced to the essentials here, and notwithstanding the use of modern technology, the building is very much in the spirit of a traditional ‘Tent’. Technology is minimal based on instinct and experience rather than mathematical formulae. It is a modern take on a ‘Metal Tent’ in a Tile manufacturing facility.


  • Client : Rocell Canteen
  • Location : Horana