thomas m wilson

Tropical Architecture – Visiting Geoffrey Bawa’s Place

December 6th, 2016


I’ve arrived in Sri Lanka.

Let me be honest: first impressions of Colombo bring forth descriptors like pushy, moustache-wearing, women-dominating, smog-covered, coarse, opportunistic and disheveled. It is not a city that anybody should rush to visit.  However this morning I found my way through this city to a tiny pocket of beauty and calm – the private townhouse of the famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa.  He is a man who sought to answer the question: what should human accommodation in the tropics look like?  One of his answers is found at his own residence, Number 11 in Colombo.


His idea of a tropical architecture, open to the warm air and natural vegetation, while also cool and light, feels good to be in.


Throughout the house art works appear as little surprises, always inviting the eye to linger on a painting or a sculpture or an unusual chair. His house is almost like Sir John Soane’s house in London, redone by an early twentieth century denizen of equatorial climes.


Most of all walking around the house it was nice to be reminded that some men treasure beauty and live for the dance of the imagination in space.