British Council’s Headquarters in Sri Lanka

Colombo Office Building, Sri Lankan Architecture, Images, Architect

British Council’s Headquarters

British Council’s Headquarters Building – design by Jestico + Whiles

7 Jul 2014

British Council’s Headquarters in Colombo

Design: Jestico + Whiles

Jestico + Whiles completes new build extension on the British Council’s Headquarters in Sri Lanka

Jestico + Whiles’ extension of the British Council’s headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka has now completed. The practice is also working on the refurbishment of the historic villa (Phase 2) which is now underway and expected to complete December 2014.

British Council HQ

In collaboration with local architects Design Forum, Jestico + Whiles’ design provides a well-structured, cohesive facility for staff and the thousand visitors who use the headquarters in Colombo each day.

Whilst the villa will be restored and modernised to remain central to the scheme, half the remaining buildings have been demolished and the new extension houses a library, a multi-purpose hall and a customer services facility.

British Council HQ

The library, built on a raised deck with an elliptical stairway connecting the floors, sits opposite the existing villa. Beneath the library, two smaller, contrasting pavilions have been created. The first is the customer services facility, a glazed enclosure directly visible on arrival, which includes a large-scale artwork by a local artist. The second building holds the multi-purpose hall, consisting of a solid, enclosed building clad in polished concrete with back-lit glazed insets.

British Council HQ

In response to the local climate, the first floor library has been constructed with an active roof system of north lights to provide controlled natural lighting into the centre of the building, whilst minimising direct sunlight. Clad in half-round clay tiles, these pitched roofs assist in discharging water from the building onto the flat roofs located between. The flat roofs have been planted with indigenous grasses and flora, minimising run-off and enhancing biodiversity. Further consideration for the scheme’s tropical setting includes a succession of covered colonnaded verandas running throughout the site to provide shade and protection from the rain.

British Council Country Director, Keith Davies, commented: “This project is a vote of confidence in the British Council’s cultural and educational programme in Sri Lanka, where we have operated for more than 65 years. The redevelopment of the Colombo premises, which is the headquarters of our Sri Lanka operations, will strengthen our ability to deliver an even larger programme of activities and services for many years to come.”

British Council HQ

The new library, information and Customer Services Centre was formally opened by HRH the Prince of Wales in November 2013, and the project will be the first in the British Council to receive BREEAM accreditation – ‘the world’s leading design and assessment method for sustainable buildings’.

The scheme is sensitive to the native topography. The existing mature trees have been carefully retained, and a generous landscaped courtyard of indigenous flora created at the heart of the complex, uniting the villa with the new extension.

Jestico + Whiles’ design responds thoughtfully to the British Council’s ambition to promote British culture while forging strong, lasting international relationships, by providing a scheme that reflects the best of British design but also respects the cultural context in which it is located.

James Tatham, Associate Director at Jestico + Whiles said: “Jestico + Whiles has been working with the British Council for many years and we are delighted to represent the UK on this project. Indigenous forms and influences have been incorporated and reinterpreted to provide a clean, contemporary building, which we believe captures the UK’s innovation and design skills, whilst sitting comfortably within the architectural, cultural and climatic context of the site.”

British Council HQ

The project adds to Jestico + Whiles’ growing portfolio of international projects, which currently includes developments in Europe, Russia, India and the Middle East.

The British Council in Sri Lanka has a library membership of 24,000, which makes it the largest library in the entire British Council global network. The English and Examinations services at British Council Sri Lanka are also among the biggest in the world, with 12,000 students learning English, more than 2,000 teachers trained each year and 34,000 examination candidates acquiring UK qualifications each year, in addition to a vibrant Arts and cultural programme. The Colombo office operates across a 7-day week and a 12-hour day and sees up to 2,000 visitors a day.

British Council’s Headquarters images / information from Jestico + Whiles

Jestico + Whiles


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.




Sri Lanka Architecture

Sri Lankan Buildings

A key Sri Lankan Building:

British High Commission in Colombo
Design: Richard Murphy Architects
High Commission Sri Lanka
photograph from architect

British High Commission Sri Lanka




Belihuloya Mountains House
Chinthaka Wickramage Associates
Sri Lanka House
photograph from architect

Sri Lanka House

Holistic Learning and Empowerment Facilities, Mankulam, northern Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Building
picture from Article 25
Sri Lankan Community Building

Indian Buildings

Sri Lankan Architect : Geoffrey Bawa

School Building Designs

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British Council’s Headquarters Building – page