Geoffrey Bawa doesn't work without first reading the lines of the land, the influence of the climate, the kinds of things that grow here or there. His is an architecture that conforms as it adorns. He thinks through the landscape, opens... [more]
Geoffrey Bawa doesn't work without first reading the lines of the land, the influence of the climate, the kinds of things that grow here or there. His is an architecture that conforms as it adorns. He thinks through the landscape, opens space up to it, lets the outside mingle within. His structures are airy and light, open and outstretched; they speak of bright winds, partake of greenery, breathe the warm breath of the beach. An acute sensitivity to his surroundings characterizes everything he does.
Coconut trees surround a lobby-level, ocean-view pool at Bawa's Triton Hotel on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. The expansive body of water outside appears reflected by the tranquil pool within. The sense of place remains unbroken: even inside its walls, the horizontal structure seems to perpetuate the openness of the beach and the sea.
Bawa also designed the University of Ruhunu in Matara, located in a hilly southern coastal section of Sri Lanka. Here Bawa developed a series of buildings connected by terraces, pathways, and gardens. The space seems ideally distributed: isolated areas for contemplation and concentration are offset by open, social spaces that nourish academic and casual communication.
For Bawa, a space cannot be conceived from a stationary perspective: movement is essential to both its concept and the experience of it. As he says, "A building can only be understood by moving around and through it and by experiencing the modulation and feel of the spaces one moves through -- from the outside into verandas, then rooms, passages, courtyards -- the view from these spaces into others, views through to the landscape beyond, and from outside the building, views back through rooms and into inner rooms and courts."
It's clear that Bawa thinks through his designs in an ambulant manner. He grasps a multiplicity of perspectives as he moves, considers the interaction of various lines of vision, and finally integrates all of this information into a unified design. Such subtle accomplishments are especially remarkable for an architect who didn't enter the field until age 38. [show less]