In the search for sustainability, Sri Lanka like most countries has been looking at modern and new materials and technologies as much as at the indigenous practices. Despite having possessed a resourceful repository of traditional technologies and practices, their reinventions, however, have remained somewhat unrecognized. This stems partly from the absence of focused research as well as sponsored or recognized programs to promote and experiment with the new possibilities of their applications in modern building.
Sri Lanka's traditional architecture has been extensively studied, and there exists much literature on the art and construction of the buildings. However, a greater focus has been on recording the variety of their spatial patterns together with the architectural compositions and appearances of buildings and their architectural details (De Vos 1988; De Silva 1990; Lewcock et al. 2002). While De Vos and De Silva have constructed a set of patterns of traditional Sri Lankan houses in settlements, Lewcock et al. have traversed the entire range of traditional settlements and buildings and particularly their architectural splendor. Karunaratne has often highlighted the marvel of timber architecture (1984), while many archeologists have discussed the structures and constructions of buildings in the context of the history and archeology of Sri Lanka's ancient civilizations. In contrast, Dayaratne (1999, 2000, 2003, 2007) shows how its indigenous architecture has been inherently sustainable and how some of the modern architects have employed their principles in creating architecture that is appropriate to culture and kinder to the environment. This paper provides a general introduction to the traditional materials of Sri Lanka and examines in detail how earth architecture has been revitalized as a sustainable approach to building.