a+u 2011:06 Geoffrey Bawa - Essence of Sri Lanka
Feature: Geoffrey Bawa Essence of Sri Lanka
BIG + Grontmij + Spacescape Win the Stockholmsporten MasterPlan / Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor / Nicholas Grimshaw Awarded Mobile Art Pavilion in Brazil
For most people, Sri Lanka brings to mind a mysterious country rich in ancient heritage sites and spectacular natural landscapes.
It is within such a captivating context which the architect Geoffrey Bawa (1919-2003) practiced his craft. Considered the foremost contemporary architect in Sri Lanka, his work continues to have lasting influence for several generations of Asian architects, particularly those in the tropical regions.
Working mainly in Sri Lanka and parts of tropical Asia, he adapted vernacular elements, materials, construction methodologies and thinking during a time when the current notions of sustainability and climate-responsiveness had yet to exist. Also, for him the spatial and visual experiences through a building were far more important than its physical form. The result is an architecture that is responsive to its climate and landscape, with carefully orchestrated scenography of spaces typically blurring boundaries between the inside and outside. It is this ability to distil the essence of Sri Lanka through his contemporary sensibilities, which has allowed his work to bridge seamlessly between vernacular traditions and modernity, beautifully sensitive to context yet thoroughly relevant to its time and till today.
Over two weeks in January 2011, we had the opportunity to photograph most of the projects presented in the issue, in their current states. Our editor also visited the various sites, returning with deep impressions that contributed to the shaping of the issue. This issue introduces the landscapes of Sri Lanka, and brings readers into the built legacy of Geoffrey Bawa. The main essay and project descriptions by Channa Daswatte ? who was a principal associate and close friend of Bawa ? give valuable insight to the approach and background of his works. The issue closes with glimpses into the nature of architecture education in Sri Lanka and the works of the emerging, new generation of Sri Lankan architects today. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the staff and trustees of the Geoffrey Bawa Trust for all their support and help in the making of this issue, as well as the current building owners who kindly allowed their buildings to be photographed. (a+u)
A Legacy over Time
The Osmund and Ena de Silva House
Polontalawa Estate Bungalow
No. 2 Alfred House Road
Parliamentary Complex at Sri Jayewardenepura
de Soysa House
Blue Water Hotel
House on the Red Cliffs
Architecture Education in Sri Lanka
Works by a New Generation of Sri Lankan Architects