When Sri Lanka’s war was fought to a bloody conclusion in 2009, there was some hope that the military defeat of Tamil secessionism would be matched by a constitutional settlement of Tamil political grievances. No such thing occurred and instead the victorious state expanded its own authoritarian potential by abolishing presidential terms limits and terminating or weakening key procedural limitations on presidential power. Taken together with attacks on the independence of the judiciary, a clampdown on social dissent, and widespread militarisation of civil administration, this instantiated an unprecedented regime of presidential authoritarianism in the country. This had the potential to fundamentally alter the trajectory of Sri Lanka’s constitutional development from one of a flawed but fairly robust South Asian democracy to a control democracy animated by populist nationalism. Fortunately, the democratic spirit and electoral traditions proved to be more firmly rooted within the polity than was thought, and the excesses generated under the post-Eighteenth Amendment constitution created the discontent necessary to see a rollback of this regime within less than five years.
As noted at the outset, the promulgation of the 1972 Constitution established the Republic of Sri Lanka. This was the first time in the history of the island that the republican form of state was established (discounting the period under which parts of the littoral were controlled by the Dutch East India Company during the time the Netherlands were a confederated republic). Formally, this meant that the head of state was no longer a hereditary monarch, and substantively, that the new Sri Lankan republic was entirely legally autochthonous, i.e., there was no longer any constitutional link to a foreign country and that the states power derived exclusive from the people of Sri Lanka. More normatively, however, due to the exclusionary nature of the new state, its republican credentials have always been open to question. In political philosophy, a republic is defined by the commitment of the state to the principle of non-domination. This means that democratic majoritarianism has always to be balanced and countervailed by minority protection devices (‘minority’ here defined as the section of the population that is not within the democratic majority in any decision of political significance). As is clear from the discussion above, the Sri Lankan state is a republic only in the formalistic sense of not having a monarchy at its head; by every other normative reckoning, it is not a republic at all, but an ethnocracy in which the politically dominant ethnicity is constitutionally privileged.
The expansion of the presidency is simply just that and also manifests itself in a manner that makes it more obvious than any other arm of governance sees in the structure. A massive expansion and extension in height of the structure is made to accommodate the all powerful presidency and its attendant arms of executive power and control. From the outside the whole structure is visually impenetrable, but appears as a centrifugally unifying circular structure. It's appearance certainly goes beyond the traditionally understood cultural elements of the architecture of palaces and monasteries and borders on being an ultimate symbolic object representing the highest of the high in an abstracted form.
Internally the spatial relations isolate the space of the presidency and the executive offices surrounding the presidency controls access to the space occupied by the presidency. Also while the presidency has visual control over its executive offices, spatial and physical control is limited, though access to all these areas being through a strong single space at the base of the presidency that controls this access. The legislature and the judiciary are overwhelmed by the new structures and new supports independent of the legislature have had to be erected directly from the available firm ground to support parts of it. The access to the supreme space of the judiciary is made easy from the executive where the renovations needed to the judiciary made inevitable by the damage caused by the expansion of the executive leads to the addition of a new series of stairs to access the main space. In the process the judicial structure is now a roof terrace accessed from the executive offices. Extreme strain is placed on the legislature with it the additional weight and is now completely unrecognisable even as the formative base and supporting structure on which the executive stands.
The structure here is seen as a series of simple relationships between the three instruments or branches of government, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The supreme power of the people is represented in the open sided structure that is the legislature, the executive power too lies in it, though a ceremonial presidency is placed atop this to represent the leadership of the executive and approached through and from it and derives its power and is supported by the lower level structure, the legislature. The judiciary also deriving its power from the legislature is however seen to be separate and distinct and is approached from the legislature through a clearly structured access as it is from the presidency. A separate independent access is provided for the people to the judiciary which allows for redress of injustices that may arise from the abuse of state power.
In outward appearance the building represents a singular view of a majoritarian government and projects a homogenous style except in the Judiciary which is clearly manifest as different. The architectural style adopted here is the one most commonly associated with the royal and monastic buildings of the past.