Reference Entry

Bawa, Geoffrey

John Musgrove

in Oxford Art Online

ISBN: 9780198606789
Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI:
Bawa, Geoffrey

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(b Colombo, 1919; d Colombo, May 27, 2003).

Sri Lankan architect. He studied English literature at the University of Cambridge and was admitted to the Bar in 1943. After some years travelling in the USA and Europe he returned to Sri Lanka where, in 1949, he bought Lunuganga at Bentota, on the west coast south of Colombo, and initiated what became a widely renowned garden. He then returned to England to study architecture at the Architectural Association, London, graduating in 1956. He joined the Colombo practice of Edward Reid & Begg (1958) and began a close collaboration with the Danish architect Ulrik Plesner (b 1930), one of its partners, which lasted until 1967.

There are two distinct aspects to Bawa’s work. The first is an intensely personal flair for expressing what he called a ‘subconscious residue of understanding’ left in the mind by all kinds of buildings and landscapes in Sri Lanka and abroad; this was the basis of his celebration of the local vernacular, which grew out of Portuguese, Dutch and British influences as well as indigenous models. The second is the element of dynamism in his buildings, which stems from his belief that a building, like a garden, can only be experienced by moving through it. Bawa’s European training is most evident in his early works, although even these bear a personal stamp that immediately relates them to local culture, context and climate. The tennis club-house (...

Reference Entry.  767 words. 

Subjects: Architecture ; South and Southeast Asian Art ; 20th-Century Art

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