GEOFFREY BAWA – 33RD LANE HOUSE

Variant Names Geoffrey Bawa’s House
Street Address 33rd lane, Bagatelle Road
Location Colombo, Sri Lanka
Architect/Planner Geoffrey Bawa
Date 1960-1998
Century 20th
Decade 1960s
Building Type Residential
Building Usage Private residence
Keywords Adaptive re-use; courtyard house

About the building:

  • About The house in 33rd Lane is an essay in architectural bricolage.
  • Elements salvaged from old buildings in Sri Lanka and South India were artfully incorporated into the evolving composition.
  • 1958 Bawa bought the third house in a row of four small houses.
  • He converted it into a pied-à-terre with living room, bedroom, tiny kitchen and room for a servant.
  • After some time he bought the fourth and this was colonized to serve as dining room and second living room.
  • Ten years later the remaining bungalows were acquired and added into the composition and the first in the row was converted into a four-storey tower.
  • Over a period of forty years the houses were subjected to continual change.
  • Although the plan form of the whole might at each stage have been thought to be simply the result of an arbitrary process of stripping away and adding, any accidental or picturesque quality has always been tempered by a strong sense of order and composition.
  • It was here that Bawa developed his interest in architectural bricolage.
  • The main part of the house is an evocation of a lost world of verandahs and courtyards assembled from a rich collection of traditional devices and plundered artifacts and the new tower which rises above the car port  rises from a  shady nether world to give views out across the treetops towards the sea
  • The final result is an introspective labyrinth of rooms and garden courts which together create the illusion of limitless space. Words like inside and outside lose all meaning: here are rooms without roofs and roofs without walls, all connected by a complex matrix of axes and internal vistas.

INTRODUCTION ABOUT GEOFFREY BAWA:

  • Geoffrey Manning Bawa
  • Born in 1919
  • In 1938 Geoffrey went to Cambridge to read English and later studied Law in London.
  • worked for some time in a Colombo law firm.
  • Soon tired from the legal profession
  • 1948 he came to a temporary halt in Italy where, seduced by its Renaissance gardens
  • He returned to Ceylon where he bought Lunuganga.
  • Wanted to make Lunuganga an Italian garden but laid bare his lack of technical knowledge
  • 1951 he began a trial apprenticeship with Edwards, Reid and Begg.
  • 1953 he applied to the Architectural Association School in London.
  • Finally qualified as an ARCHITECT in 1957 at the age of 38.

PRACTICE:

  • Geoffrey Bawa started in the firm of Edwards Reid and Begg.
  • His fellow partners from 1959 to 1967 were Jimmy Nilgiria and Valentine Gunesekera.
  • The Danish architect Ulrik Plesner joined the practice in 1959 and worked as a close collaborator with Bawa until the end of 1966.
  • After 1967 Bawa’s sole partner was Dr. K. Poologasundram who acted as engineer and office manager until the partnership was dissolved in 1989.
  • In 1990 Bawa founded  ‘Geoffrey Bawa Associates’.
  • Channa Daswatte acted as his principal associate from 1993 until 1998.

PHILOSOPHY:

  • Highly personal in his approach, evoking the pleasures of the senses that go hand in hand with the climate, landscape, and culture of ancient Ceylon(Present day Sri Lanka).
  • Brings together an appreciation of the Western humanist tradition in architecture with needs and lifestyles of his own country.
  • The principal force behind TROPICAL MODERNISM.
  • Work with a sensitivity to site and context.
  • His designs break down the barriers between inside and outside, between interior design and landscape architecture.
  • He reduced buildings to a series of scenographically conceived spaces separated by courtyards and gardens.
  • His ideas are providing a bridge between the past and the future, a mirror in which ordinary people can obtain a clearer image of their own evolving culture

AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS:

  • Pan Pacific Citation, Hawaii Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (1967)
  • President, Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (1969)
  • Inaugural Gold Medal at the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (1982)
  • Heritage Award of Recognition, for “Outstanding Architectural Design in the Tradition of Local Vernacular Architecture”, for the new Parliamentary Complex at Sri Jayawardenepura, Kotte from the Pacific Area Travel Association. (1983)
  • Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects
  • Elected Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (1983)
  • Conferred title of Vidya Jothi (Light of Science) in the Inaugural Honours List of the President of Sri Lanka (1985)
  • Teaching Fellowship at the Aga Khan Programme for Architecture, at MIT, Boston , USA (1986)
  • Conferred title Deshamanya (Pride of the Nation) in the Honours List of the President Sri Lanka (1993)
  • The Grate Master’s Award 1996 incorporating South Asian Architecture Award (1996)
  • The Architect of the Year Award, India (1996)
  • Asian Innovations Award, Bronze Award – Architecture, Far Eastern Economic Review (1998)
  • The Chairman’s Award of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in and contribution to the field of architecture (2001)
  • Awarded Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), University of Ruhunu ( 14 th September 2002 )

“Every society possesses what is called an ‘image of the world’. This image has its roots in the unconscious structure of society and  requires a specific conception of time to foster it. The works and words of men are made of time, they are time, they are a movement towards this or that, whatever the reality the this or that designates, even if it is nothingness itself. Time is the depositary of meaning.”

A building can only be understood by moving around and through it and by experiencing the modulation and feel the spaces one  moves through it and by experiencing the modulation and feel of the spaces one moves through it end by experiencing the modulation and feel of the spaces one moves through- from the outside into verandah, than rooms, passages, courtyards.

Architecture cannot be totally explained but must be experienced.

– Geoffrey Bawa

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GEOFFREY BAWA – THE LUNUGANGA

INTRODUCTION:

  • Geoffrey Manning Bawa
  • Born in 1919
  • In 1938 Geoffrey went to Cambridge to read English and later studied Law in London.
  • worked for some time in a Colombo law firm.
  • Soon tired from the legal profession
  • 1948 he came to a temporary halt in Italy where, seduced by its Renaissance gardens
  • He returned to Ceylon where he bought Lunuganga.
  • Wanted to make Lunuganga an Italian garden but laid bare his lack of technical knowledge
  • 1951 he began a trial apprenticeship with Edwards, Reid and Begg.
  • 1953 he applied to the Architectural Association School in London.
  • Finally qualified as an ARCHITECT in 1957 at the age of 38.

PRACTICE:

  • Geoffrey Bawa started in the firm of Edwards Reid and Begg.
  • His fellow partners from 1959 to 1967 were Jimmy Nilgiria and Valentine Gunesekera.
  • The Danish architect Ulrik Plesner joined the practice in 1959 and worked as a close collaborator with Bawa until the end of 1966.
  • After 1967 Bawa’s sole partner was Dr. K. Poologasundram who acted as engineer and office manager until the partnership was dissolved in 1989.
  • In 1990 Bawa founded  ‘Geoffrey Bawa Associates’.
  • Channa Daswatte acted as his principal associate from 1993 until 1998.

PHILOSOPHY:

  • Highly personal in his approach, evoking the pleasures of the senses that go hand in hand with the climate, landscape, and culture of ancient Ceylon(Present day Sri Lanka).
  • Brings together an appreciation of the Western humanist tradition in architecture with needs and lifestyles of his own country.
  • The principal force behind TROPICAL MODERNISM.
  • Work with a sensitivity to site and context.
  • His designs break down the barriers between inside and outside, between interior design and landscape architecture.
  • He reduced buildings to a series of scenographically conceived spaces separated by courtyards and gardens.
  • His ideas are providing a bridge between the past and the future, a mirror in which ordinary people can obtain a clearer image of their own evolving culture

LUNUGANGA, BENTOTA: A HOUSE IS A GARDEN

Street Address Dedduwa Lake
Location Bentota,  Sri Lanka
Architect/Planner Geoffrey Bawa
Date 1949-1998
Century 20th
Decade 1990s
Building Types landscape, residential
Building Usage garden, private residence

LUNUGANGA(Before):

  • A small rubber plantation consisting of a house and 25 acres of land
  • A low hill planted with rubber and fruit trees and coconut palms with rice fields.
  • Surrounded by the Dedduwa lake.

LUNUGANGA(Now)

  • The Italian inspired garden with spectacular views over lakes and tropical jungle together with a simply designed plantation house
  • “A place of continued varied sensations“
  • The creation of one man’s vision which, over 40 years, was nurtured into a reality.
  • It’s a legacy of a great architect.

THE REASON:

  • When Bawa came back to Ceylon in 1949, he became almost totally involved  in the pleasures of altering his house and transforming the rubber plantation into a wonderfully beautiful, rolling landscape;  staircased and terraced , squared into paddy fields, on the edge of a long lake with a wild island in its centre. This he so enjoyed that he decided to become an ARCHITECT .
  • A garden is not a static object, it is a moving spectacle, a series of scenographic images that change with the season, the point of view, the time of day, the mood. So Lunuganga has been conceived as a series of separate contained spaces, to be moved through at leisure or to be occupied at certain times of the day.
  • Geoffrey Bawa created this tropical garden idyll. The Italian inspired gardens, with spectacular views over the lake and tropical jungle, has been transformed into a series of outdoor rooms creating a huge feeling of space with vistas that have been carefully chosen to emphasize their beauty with points of architecture and art; from entrances, pavilions, broad walks to a multitude of courtyards and pools.

PLANTATION HOUSE:

  • A collection of courtyards, verandahs and loggias create a haven of peace and inspiration.
  • Suites are individual and beautifully decorated to provide a relaxing and memorable environment.

STUDIO:

  • Set at the edge of a cinnamon plantation
  • high on the hill overlooking the lake to the south thus giving the privacy.

Landscaping:

This is not a garden of colorful flowers, neat borders and gurgling fountains: it is a civilized wilderness, an assemblage of tropical plants of different scale and texture, a composition of green on green, an ever changing play of light and shade, a succession of hidden surprises and sudden vistas, a landscape of memories and ideas.

INFERENCES:

  • 2 substantial tree grow within house
  • “houses are inseparable from trees”
  • Open-to-sky bathroom with a tree
  • “we have traditionally lived outdoors”
  • Furnished in natural timber, simple white fabric, sturdy wrougt iron lighting fittings.
  • “A HOUSE IS A GARDEN”

In 1948, a young man dreamt of making a garden. Today the garden is in its prime but, after the passage of over fifty monsoons, the young man has grown old. As he sits in his wheelchair on the terrace and watches the sun setting across the lake it may be that he reflects on his achievement.

This is a work of art, not of nature: it is the contrivance of a single mind and a hundred pairs of hands working together with nature to produce something that is ‘supernatural’.

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GEOFFREY BAWA – RUHUNU UNIVERSITY

Street Address Ruhunu University
Location Matara, Sri Lanka
Architect/Planner: Geoffrey Bawa
Client Ministry of Education
Date 1980-1988
Century 20th
Decade 1980s
Building Type Educational
Building Usage University

 

  • On the south coast near Matara
  • covered an area of thirty hectares and spanned across two hills with views across a lake towards the southern ocean.
  • The campus required 50, 000 square metres of buildings to accommodate total of 4,000 students.
  • built by a Dutch contractors
  • Took eight years to complete.

DESIGN OF  THE UNIVERSITY:

Bawa’s design deployed over fifty separate pavilions linked by a system of covered loggias on a predominantly orthogonal grid and used a limited vocabulary of forms and materials borrowed from the Porto-Sinhalese building traditions of the late Medieval Period, but it exploited the changing topography of the site to create an ever varying sequence of courts and verandahs, vistas and closures. The result was a modern campus, vast in size but human in scale.

MASSING:

  • Bawa placed the vice chancellor’s lodge and a guest house on the western hill and flooded the intervening valley to create a buffer between the road and the main campus.
  • wrapped the buildings of the science faculty around the northern hill and those of the arts faculty around the southern hill, using the depression between them for the library and other central facilities.
  • Buildings were planned orthogonally on a north-south grid but were allowed to ‘run with site’.
  • Natural features such as rocky outcrops were incorporated into the bases of buildings or became focal features of the open spaces.
  • The limited architectural vocabulary clearly derives from Porto- Sinhalese traditions
  • Exterior view showing terraces and juxtaposition of buildings with each other and landscape
  • Pavilions, varying in scale and extent, are connected by covered links and separated by an ever-changing succession of garden courts.
  • Everywhere there are places to pause and consider, to sit and contemplate, to gather and discuss.
  • The main routes either cut uncompromisingly across the contours or meander horizontally along them.
  • Exterior view from street level shows use of stone and concrete in façade
  • Views are carefully orchestrated in a scenographic sequence that conceals and reveals in turn, playing the northern views of jungle and distant hills against the southern views of the lake and the ocean beyond, always referring back to the picturesque hump-backed bridge that connects the entrance across the lake to the central valley and acts as the linchpin of the whole composition.
  • Ruhunu is remarkable in that it is composed from a series of fairly simple and, in the main, unremarkable buildings – about fifty in total – all built with a limited palette of materials and a limited vocabulary of standard details.
  • The construction is straightforward, comprising walls of plastered brick on a concrete frame and roofs of half-round tile laid on corrugated cement sheeting.
  • Buildings are aligned carefully to minimize solar intrusion and mitigate the effects of the south-west monsoon.
  • Few of the spaces are air-conditioned and the buildings rely for the most part on natural ventilation.
  • large dimensions and triple story covered entrance portico

INTRODUCTION TO GEOFFREY BAWA:

  • Geoffrey Manning Bawa
  • Born in 1919
  • In 1938 Geoffrey went to Cambridge to read English and later studied Law in London.
  • worked for some time in a Colombo law firm.
  • Soon tired from the legal profession
  • 1948 he came to a temporary halt in Italy where, seduced by its Renaissance gardens
  • He returned to Ceylon where he bought Lunuganga.
  • Wanted to make Lunuganga an Italian garden but laid bare his lack of technical knowledge
  • 1951 he began a trial apprenticeship with Edwards, Reid and Begg.
  • 1953 he applied to the Architectural Association School in London.
  • Finally qualified as an ARCHITECT in 1957 at the age of 38.

PRACTICE:

  • Geoffrey Bawa started in the firm of Edwards Reid and Begg.
  • His fellow partners from 1959 to 1967 were Jimmy Nilgiria and Valentine Gunesekera.
  • The Danish architect Ulrik Plesner joined the practice in 1959 and worked as a close collaborator with Bawa until the end of 1966.
  • After 1967 Bawa’s sole partner was Dr. K. Poologasundram who acted as engineer and office manager until the partnership was dissolved in 1989.
  • In 1990 Bawa founded  ‘Geoffrey Bawa Associates’.
  • Channa Daswatte acted as his principal associate from 1993 until 1998.

PHILOSOPHY:

  • Highly personal in his approach, evoking the pleasures of the senses that go hand in hand with the climate, landscape, and culture of ancient Ceylon(Present day Sri Lanka).
  • Brings together an appreciation of the Western humanist tradition in architecture with needs and lifestyles of his own country.
  • The principal force behind TROPICAL MODERNISM.
  • Work with a sensitivity to site and context.
  • His designs break down the barriers between inside and outside, between interior design and landscape architecture.
  • He reduced buildings to a series of scenographically conceived spaces separated by courtyards and gardens.
  • His ideas are providing a bridge between the past and the future, a mirror in which ordinary people can obtain a clearer image of their own evolving culture

 

 

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