Mr. Bawa I Presume
His home in Lunuganga, sixty kilometers south of Colombo, was his “journeyman work”, and the five-star hotel in Kandalama was one of his masterpieces. In Europe the name Geoffrey Bawa is still only known to insiders, but in the Asian region he has long been one of the most celebrated cult figures in architecture. Anyone traveling through Sri Lanka will find themselves unable to avoid his much-copied architectural style. Bawa developed what is known today as “tropical modernism”: minimalist, reductionist concrete structures that feature traditional craftsmanship and natural materials, while also leaving as much room as possible for nature. Bawa practiced what has now become a global trend since the 1950s: green architecture, environmentally friendly construction. One of his most important architectural principles is the fascinating sightline. The photographer Giovanna Silva impressively documents the private houses, schools, and hotels Bawa designed, which we encounter on the way through Sri Lanka’s jungle.
The Sri Lankan architect and attorney GEOFFREY BAWA (1919-2003) studied law, then architecture in England. He began developing his work in the late 1950s and founded a lively architectural scene in his homeland. In 2001 he received the Aga Khan Chairman’s Award for Architecture for his life’s work.
The photographer GIOVANNA SILVA lives in Milan. She has been a photo editor for Domus and Abitare and participated in the 14th architecture biennial in Venice with her project Nightswimming: Discotheques in Italy from 1960 to Today. She is founder and director of Humboldt Books.