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Travel: Sri Lanka: Boutique Hotels by International Architect Geoffrey Bawa

Irene Khin Wong

It was not until I was in Sri Lanka this past December that I noticed this internationally well known architect, Geoffrey Bawa who has a string of “Boutique Hotels”. Bawa was regarded as having been one of the most important and influential Asian architects of the twentieth century. He was ahead of his time with his style of blending the natural environment and its surrounding in his work.

Bawa was born in 1919 and came late to architecture, only qualifying in 1957 at the age of thirty-eight, but he soon established himself as Sri Lanka’s most prolific and inventive architect for buildings in a tropical Asian context. Although best known for his private houses and hotels, his portfolio also included schools and universities, public buildings as well as the new Sri Lanka Parliament. His architectural career spanned forty years and was ended in 1998 by a stroke, which left him paralyzed. He died in 2003.

I was very fortunate to get a private tour of his home and office, which now a foundation. One of his most astonishing work is his own garden at Lunuganga which is 1.5 hours away from the capital, Colombo. Not a typical garden of colourful flowers, neat borders and gurgling fountains but with an abundance of lush wilderness and assemblage of tropical plants of different scale and texture. It requires days to explore its every corner and appreciate its changing moods.With each exploration you can find many different discoveries depending on the time of day.

In Sri Lanka his imprint is everywhere: in Montessori schools, farm orphanages, convents, universities, factories, hotels, parliament buildings and private homes.

Interior Photos of Bawa's Home in Colombo