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Bawa Architecture

The late Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most influential architect, was responsible for linking the ancient architecture of this island with that of the modern world. Bawa had a deep understanding and appreciation of the country’s cultural heritage – drawing ideas from the ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa as well as the colonial influences of the Portuguese and Dutch periods. His travels worldwide also resulted in an appreciation of the more contemporary architectural styles.

Bawa Architecture

Geoffrey Bawa had a passion for the island’s varying natural landscapes, scenes that he used as the focal points around which he created his buildings. The end result was a unique architectural style that erased boundaries between the `outside’ and `inside’ of living and working spaces. With skilful positioning of the built environment to take optimum advantage of the surrounding vistas, Bawa’s architecture shows great appreciation of natural elements; the tropical sun, ocean breeze, lush greenery and flowing water. With these considered, Bawa makes seamless transitions of the outside environment to beautiful structures allowing comfortable and enhanced daily life. Wide courtyards, shaded walkways and open verandahs feature heavily in his design. All these elements contributed to a unique architectural style – a legacy that will continue to influence, educate, and develop the creative minds of generations of Sri Lankan architects.

Bawa Gems

Geoffrey Bawa’s personal spaces:

Lunuganga - a garden retreat that was originally an old rubber plantation that Geoffrey Bawa transformed into a haven of peace, was a life long project cherished by Bawa that he continued to develop for almost 50 years.  This was a personal journey that helped to inspire his creativity.  Lunuganga, opened as an exclusive boutique hotel in December 2005, offers guests a rare opportunity to step inside the private life of one of the world’s most celebrated architects.  After decades of careful, exquisite, creative thought and design, Bawa’s legacy and perhaps most personal life’s work is today a wondrous and inspiring place to visit and savour. With astonishing views and beautiful interiors, many original Bawa artworks and blueprints on the walls, a stay in one of Lunuganga’s six fine suites is guaranteed to be a highlight of any holiday in Sri Lanka. (More)

Paradise Road Gallery café - currently one of Sri Lanka’s leading restaurants, the Gallery Café used to be the office of Geoffrey Bawa.  His imprint remains strong - courtyards with columns, ponds, walkways and open pavilions – spaces that inspired a creative genius.  The premises now provide for a memorable dining experience that also serves as an art gallery that promotes the creative talents of young artists.

Hotels & villas designed by Bawa:

Heritance Ahungalla -
an early creation of Bawa which was completed in 1981, Heritance Ahungalla is situated on the south coast just minutes away from the historic city of Galle.  The hotel is approached through a long stretch of roadway off the main Galle Road, which provides for a dramatic entrance with views across the infinity pool edging the sea. The main areas on the ground as well as upper floors are designed as linked open pavilions - all with continuous views of the sea.  Bawa uses his signature architectural style that erases boundaries between the `outside' and `inside', resulting in plenty of access to the natural elements - the tropical sun, ocean breeze, lush greenery and flowing water. (More)

Heritance Kandalama -
a minimalist, eco-friendly hotel situated in the Cultural Triangle in the North Central province, was designed by Bawa in 1994.  Heritance Kandalama is an architectural masterpiece. Bawa conceived this hotel `as an austere jungle palace'. The minimalist interiors and the building itself are cleverly designed to blend into the landscape without interfering with the tranquil natural evolution of its surroundings. Bawa has allowed for magnificent views of the ancient Sigiriya Rock, the surrounding mountains and the Kandalama Tank (reservoir). Hidden within the edge of the jungle - which is home to numerous species of birds, monkeys, spotted deer and wild boar, the hotel has won numerous prestigious environmental awards for its role in nurturing Sri Lanka's cultural heritage and natural beauty. (More)

Lighthouse Hotel –
situated just before Galle town on the south coast, Lighthouse Hotel is located on a rocky headland overlooking the Indian Ocean.  This magnificent boutique hotel conveys an immediate sense of Galle’s history. The Portuguese landing at Galle is re-enacted in brass and bronze on the impressive main staircase and an ambitious batik of ancient coats of arms fills the ceiling of the restful main bar.  The hotel design demonstrates Bawa’s skill at integrating architecture and landscape. (More)

The Last House - so-called because it was Geoffrey Bawa’s architectural swansong, is positioned on an idyllic strip of land – lagoon on one side, beach on the other – on the outskirts of Tangalle in the deep south.  Large open spaces, courtyards, and verandas lets you relax and take in this tropical oasis.  As one would expect from Sri Lanka’s most respected architect, a man that mixed Sri Lanka’s rich cultural past with a clean modernity, the Last House is very special. (More)

Public buildings designed by Bawa:

Matara’s Ruhuna University -
An inspiring creation by Bawa for the younger generation of Sri Lanka, the Ruhuna University enabled Bawa to explore his style of integrating work spaces into the natural landscape.  Built between two hills, this university campus consists of pavilions and courtyards with breathtaking ocean views.

Parliament of Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka’s Parliament building in Kotte, which the President at the time commissioned Bawa to design in 1979, was created in the center of a vast man made lake.  The building incorporates traditional Sri Lankan and South Indian architectural features with a series of pavilions with copper roofs.

Useful Links

Arch Net Digital Library
Information on Geoffrey Bawa – Click Here

Architect – Great Buildings Online
Information on the works of Geoffrey Bawa - Click Here

Architecture Week
Information on Geoffrey Bawa and his creations - Click Here

Sri Lanka Institute of architects

Upcoming programmes, Information on Geoffrey Bawa - Click Here

Media Reviews

'Geoffrey Bawa – The Complete Works'
By David Robson

'Sri Lanka Style – Tropical Design and Architecture'
By Channa Daswatte

By Geoffrey Bawa

'Geoffrey Bawa'
By Brian Brace Taylor, 1995

'Tropical Asian House'
By Robert Powell, 1996

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