“ There is only one pleasure, that of being alive ”
Cesare Pavese (1908 – 1950)
A flaming torch marks the entrance. The symbol of life, truth and the power of regeneration, it will be kept burning all the time.
Parking the car and you enter your own private courtyard. A cloistered staircase opens out onto a terrace; looking out, you see first one courtyard and then another, then an ordered line of double pitched roofs. A covered walkway, alive with green leads you to your front door. You have arrived at Tamba Villas in Thalpe.
Tamba showcases a very Sri Lankan way of life; a harmony of sight and sound, balancing nature and symmetry with the order of proportion. Although it is not on the beach, the sound of the sea is in your ears. As a concept it harks back to ancient Sri Lanka. At its core is the idea of water. A waterway meanders through the entire property; the whole development is centred around pools and ponds. Water heightens the senses, creates mood and gives pleasure.
The garden is a constant presence. Lush and vibrant, it is filled with living sound. Each of the thirty-seven villas will be unique and individual but they will all be enveloped by shrubs and plants. There will be flowering trees and bushes blooming in brilliant colour, shades of olive, lime and lemon deepening in the sun. The contrasts will be sharp and bold, as the day wears on the reflections will grow and the shadows will ripple in the water.
The riot of nature is set in careful symmetry. Paths, walkways and colonnades link the spaces, giving them a life and mobility of their own. Verandahs wrap themselves around living areas, fusing them with the world outside. Steps and terraces create views on many levels while porches and pavilions add space and grandeur. Living beauty, scent and colour is enhanced by the efficiency and precision of Singapore. A living breathing space with an ordered design, the aim is to create a carefully managed paradise, where everything works, where every detail has been carefully planned and thought through.
In the Islamic tradition Sri Lanka was thought to be home of the fountain of youth. The Muslim saint, Al-Khadir is reputed to be the only soul to have gained immortality. He did this by drinking from the Fountain of Life at Khadirgama, Kataragama in southern Sri Lanka. One of the most sacred shrines on the island, Kataragama lies 103 miles south of Thalpe, only a few hours away.
In Sri Lanka today people still live very long, longer than in Thailand and many other parts of Asia. According to the World Population Review, men and women in Sri Lanka live until they are at least eighty-five.
Wellbeing is part of the philosophy of Tamba. To capture and enhance the spirit of life, it will have a rejuvenation centre dedicated to spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Its components will be formed by strands from East and West- Ayurveda, meditation, yoga, health, fitness and modern medicine. Integrating the modern with the traditional, it sets out to combine science with the healing powers of nature to refresh, renew and reinvigorate the whole being, the real secret of eternal youth.
The other secret is community. According to Trevor Morgan, engineer and project manager; it is one of the biggest factors in longevity. The idea of community is deeply embedded in Sri Lankan culture. On coming to Sri Lanka, this sense of community was one of the first things which he noticed. The first house he lived in was in the middle of a village. The poorest family were an old couple, their children were living abroad and they did not have anyone to help them. They did not have a house. One day all the villagers got together and helped build a house for them.
Tamba aims to break with the isolation and separation of modern western living.
“ People crave interaction, it’s a very human thing.
People come to work to interact. Coming to work is as much about community as it is about making a living. Without interaction and community, the lifeblood slowly drains out of people and they begin to wither away.
If you do not feel isolated and alone, if you are part of something, perhaps you will live longer.”
Tamba is just the right size to create a sense of community. It is something which is very difficult to achieve in a residential development. Yet this is what its builders have set out to do.
The Italian poet, novelist, critic and translator Cesare Pavese (1908 –1950) once wrote that “ There is only one pleasure, that of being alive. ” The secret of life is longevity. It is not easily achieved, but it is worth striving for.