Bawa makes interior design and external architecture come together in a manner that leaves one with a sense of belonging and yet also, a sense of wonder. As the father of tropical modernism, a term that floats on the sheer weight of its most creative name—Geoffrey Bawa turned architecture on its head by deviating from norms, by urging us to explore the extraordinary in the ordinary. His blend of the outdoors with the indoors, of making plants as intrinsic to the design of a space as the very bricks that make it, his boldness in making the wild greenery of the tropics sometimes the centrepiece of his work—this and so much more makes him an artist who stomped down convention for imagination and refreshingly new design.
Written by Suganda Das and Shivani Dogra
Walking into Lunuganga, Geoffrey Bawa’s country home in Bentota, Sri Lanka, one is hit first by the fragrance of flowering trees as a path guides the way amid foliage into the expansive view of a blue lagoon and rooms speckled with shimmering sunlight glistening on the large couches and an abundance of tropical palms. At Kadalama, another of Bawa’s creations, the entire hotel fits into the rocky terrain of cliffs and is dwarfed by the dense forestry around it which appears to have grown over and into this modern construction. The hotel, a work of art, is a respectful tribute to the might and grandeur of the natural world. It stands with poise and natural confidence amid its surroundings, not as a manifestation of Ego seeking to conquer or prove itself, but as an equal, contributing only more to what was already present-- blurring the manmade and the natural into a blueprint of their union.
The living room in the main building at Lunuganga
87 Bentota is also a result of Bawa’s artistry. Flowering vines clamber onto wooden trellises, modern ottomans meet traditional corridors, tiled roofs add a dash of earthiness in the lush greens of a wildly kempt garden and the formality of luxury living meets the picturesque majesty of nature. Not only did Bawa show us that one can smudge the boundaries of exteriors and interiors, he insisted that one must. One must allow the earthy, the organic, the ‘green’ to enter our living spaces.
On the left, the Kandalama reception area. On the right, an Armoire in 87, Bentota
This door faces a road and hides a pool behind
Details from 87, Bentota
Goddess on the grounds of 87, Bentota
An abandoned chapel and Bawa’s outdoor working spot on the grounds of a private home
Ena de Silva’s Batik seen around Kandalama
Statues of Hanuman and Ganesh on the grounds of a private home designed by Bawa