When you think of the architectural wonders of Sri Lanka, ancient ruin cities like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa might instantly come to mind. But this nation’s architectural prowess has not only been restricted to centuries ago. Born in 1919, Sri Lankan architecture was revolutionised by the great maestro named Geoffrey Bawa. So as you venture out to discover the many wonders of this island, make a note of these iconic masterpieces that demonstrate the work of one of the greatest architects in the world.
Geoffrey Bawa’s work has touched almost every corner of this little island. This is known to reflect the fondness and admiration the artist felt for this beautiful island. Here are some of our top picks that you should try to cover during your visit in Sri Lanka that will help you see this beautiful island from the view of the father of tropical modernism.
- Number 11 – Geoffrey Bawa’s Colombo Residence
Maintained by the Geoffrey Bawa Trust, Number 11 is a hidden jewel just waiting to be discovered in the heart of Colombo. As this is the place where he spent most of his time designing his masterpieces, the space embodies the true essence of Bawa style architecture. The residence has been built by the fusion of four adjoining terraced houses that were acquired by him over years. Complex pathways lead you to rooms, patios, courtyards and garden spaces that carefully fuse the indoors and outdoors. Even the décor is made up of a unique blend of antiques and modern furniture that creates a unique setting altogether.
This remarkable creation is open for public viewing by appointments so you can contact the trust on + (94) (11) 4337335 or [email protected] to schedule your own private tour any time between Monday – Saturday: 10.00 am, 2.00 pm and 3:30 pm or Sunday: 10.00 am. The entrance fee is only LKR 1,000 per person and is a great place to visit if you are staying in our nearby Yoho Akara Mayura Place.
Yet another Bawa creation that gives you a glimpse into this great artist’s personal space is his famous country home, Lunuganga. Only a true artist of this calibre could transform a rubber plantation into such a serene paradise. Here you will be able to not only witness the unique building style of the architect but also see how he experimented with garden architecture to fuse the surrounding landscape to this building itself. This idea is what was later applied to some of the most famous hotels he created around the island.
Lunuganga is located in Dedduwa, Bentota and you can enjoy a tour of the garden for an entry fee of LKR 1,500. Tour times are from 9:30 am, 11:30 am, 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm, and you can even request for lunch or tea arrangements to be made for an additional charge. Apart from discovering the wonders of various interesting spaces like the Red Terrace, Yellow Courtyard and the Plain of Jars, you can even request for a boat tour that allows you to witness the beauty of the property from afar.
- Seema Malaka Temple
This is one of the Bawa creations that are often overlooked as it is masked in the midst of one of the busiest parts of the capital city. The Seema Malaka Temple was built upon artificial islands created in the midst of the Beira Lake and is adorned with many golden sculptures of the Lord Buddha. Many locals and tourists visit this calming site on a daily basis as it is a great spot to meditate and even grab some beautiful images of the surrounding city landscape.
- The Kandalama Hotel
Kandalama is the Bawa creation which is considered to be his greatest masterpiece. Set in the middle of a jungle peak, the hotel overlooks the stunning Kandalama Reservoir and of course the mighty Sigiriya Rock. You will be amazed by how this hotel has been built integrating all the natural resources found in the area. This extremely eco-friendly design has won the hotel many prestigious awards and is an important part of Sri Lanka’s cultural and natural heritage.
Other famous Bawa creations:
- The Gallery Café – a famous fine dining restaurant in Colombo.
- Lighthouse Hotel – Galle – built to represent the time of Colonial rule and provides a breath-taking view of the Indian Ocean.
- The Parliament of Sri Lanka – a monumental creation of national importance which stands proudly amidst the Diyawanna Oya (Lake).
- The Last House – Tangalle – this beautiful seafront hotel is the last masterpiece gifted by this great artist.
- Brief Garden in Beruwala– a proud creation of this great artist’s brother, Sri Lanka’s renowned landscape artist, Bevis Bawa.