The Perahera Mawatha Housing Scheme overlooking the Beira Lake was built in the late 1970s by the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA). It was originally a shanty settlement but opened up for subscription later on. Three years ago, Lavan (a Sri Lanka born Brit) took over a housing unit from his grandfather who was one of the early buyers. The property – which sits on 40 square metres (1.6 perches) of land with a floor area of 36 square metres (390 sq ft) – was uninhabitable due to overflowing sewers, a lack of ventilation in the toilet and kitchen, decayed doors and windows, and moss covered walls. The unit was renovated, refurbished and transformed into a cosy studio apartment. In this process, the cross walls were removed and the space was converted into a single room with living areas separated by a play with levels. The rear was opened up and an enclosed courtyard – the main source of light and ventilation – created. An antique window overlooks a dan tree while an aluminium pergola, a built-in bench and niche lighting provide the desired ambience for the outdoor sitting area. The external walls of neighbouring houses were painted, and the common pathways paved and planted in to brighten up the surroundings.