A Walk through the Astounding Bawa Architecture in Sri Lanka

by | Sep 14, 2018

Of all the breathtaking seascapes, mighty mountain treks to wildlife excitement in Sri Lanka, have you ever considered celebrating a creative piece of absolutely talented Geoffrey Bawa – his architectural masterpieces?

Late Geoffrey Bawa is a world renowned architect who is a Sri Lankan himself. His legacy still lives on with his admirable masterpieces well known for his impeccable artistic architecture. Bawa architecture unravels the essence of contemporary Sri Lanka boosting its beauty along the way. The man himself, Geoffrey Bawa, is one of the most prolific and interesting figures one would ever come across in reading Sri Lankan history. Where modernism and cultural heritage intersects Bawa explored his artistic mind to come up with the unfathomable designs, that led to the formation of a new architectural identity and aesthetic features. Bawa in fact gained recognition and awards, including the Chairman’s Award of the Aga Kahn Special Chairman’s Award for Architecture (2001) and the title Deshamanya, in recognition of his contributions to his country by the government of Sri Lanka.

Despite his late entry to architecture, Geoffrey Bawa is a pure inspiration to draw on for his discovery of his artistic mind that came into light and later made his acquire the sophisticated title- the Father of modern Sri Lankan Architecture. His journey is a true call for hidden liberties of oneself. Bawa was one of the original proponents of Tropical Modernism, a design movement in which sensitivity for local context combines with the form-making principles of modernism.1

1David Robson, “Remembering Bawa,” ArchDaily, December 19, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018.

Throughout the little island of Sri Lanka, one can trace his trail of architectural wonders; places he lived in, designed and drew inspiration from. Here is our round-up of his most inspirational architectural creations…


Heritance Kandalama, Kandalama

In the sacred heart of Sri Lanka’s cultural legacy, nestles the impeccably beautiful Heritance Kandalama. This is perhaps Bawa’s most iconic, dramatic and breathtaking masterpieces ever. Built into a cliff face overlooking the Kanadalama reservoir the hotel envelopes mother nature in all its natural forms.

Heritance Kandalama

Instilled of multiple layers stretching over about one Kilometer Kandalama hotel is a gift from Bawa, that still thrives on its plethora of landscapes amidst the wilderness and beholding the sight of the world UNESCO heritage and truly legendary, Sigiriya Rock, a wonder of King Kashyapa.


The Gallery Café, Colombo

The vibrant contemporary Colombo city, the capital city of the tear-drop Island of Sri Lanka, well known for its sophisticated landscaped, twin skyscrapers, treeline boulevards, and the business epicenter which leads us to the infamous Gallery Café, now Colombo’s favorite restaurants which was then Bawa’s architectural studio.

The Gallery Café, Colombo

Paradise Road designer, and local style arbiter, Shanth Fernando converted this Bawa Studio to a living celebration of his work with a gallery and a restaurant. The art gallery exhibits the works of local artists, and there is also a branch of Paradise Road, the popular lifestyle and design store. The Gallery Café has artistically secured the Bawa architecture with much tenderness and added glamour.


Number 11, Colombo

This is was Bawa’s private Colombo home, a three storey villa. Owning the property in 1958 Bawa lived between Number 11 villa and his beloved garden retreat at Lunuganga, for forty years.

The house remains unchanged in memory of Bawa as his abode is a recognized as a true marvel in his architectural legacy. The courtyards and varenda’s are stand still with time securing even the antique pieces inside this villa. A visit to the property will leave you inhaling the true dwelling of the memory of Geoffrey Bawa. This is perhaps the perfect form of Bawa to true enthusiasts of architecture.

Number 11


Lunuganga, Bentota

Lunuganga was known to be Bawa’s country escape. Nestling in close proximity to beach resort Benthota, this is a remarkable masterpiece of Geoffrey Bawa.

This was well known for its labor for 50 years to convert the estate into a landscaped garden, that took up most of his spare time and money. It was here that he experimented with interplay between building and landscape, between inside and outside space. The result was one of the most important Asian
gardens of the 20th C.2

Lunuganga, Bentota

Bawa’s designs were enormously influential and had a big impact on the housing aspirations of a whole generation of urban Sri Lankans.

2David Robson, “Remembering Bawa,” ArchDaily, December 19, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018.


Club Villa, Bentota

Club Villa, Benthota one of the 35 hotels designed by Geofferey Bawa. It is the ideal hotel for a luxurious escape nestling amidst coconut plantation and hop skip and a jump away from the glorious Indian ocean. The Villa is a true picture of Bawa’s vision incorporated with open courtyards and little lilly ponds. An abode for the beach and country lovers to escape the sophistications of modernization although the vill itself is a contemporary piece of architecture.

Club Villa, Bentota


The Last House, Tangalle

As the name suggests, it is Bawa’s farewell piece of architecture. The Last House was a design that labors the true tropical climate reflecting a localization in a rather modern twist. Its unique architecture open doors to a tranquil escape with a two-acre jungle surrounding. “The Last House” was Bawa’s last masterpiece and although he passed away before its construction it is a pure Bawa original masterpiece up to date.

The Last House, Tangalle

Going down the memory lane of Geoffrey Bawa is a true journey to remember his greatness and artistic choices that inspired Sri Lanka and its lifestyle and even many more architects that thrive on his memory and significance. Although we have listed down some of the most groundbreaking masterpieces by Bawa, it is important to remember that Bawa was a mastermind for many other famous designs in Sri Lanka; The New Parliament Building in Kotte, The Ruhuna University, Fitzherbert House, which is now known as Claughton House, in Dickwella and many more magical designs to be explored.

Team Blue Lanka Tours is always eagerly waiting to customize your travel itineraries, with all what you look forward to aspire in your journey going down the memory lane of talented Geoffrey Bawa. We are one click away @www.bluelankatours.com

Written By
Carol R Taylor