The Architect’s House – Geoffrey Bawa’s house in Colombo
I’m a great admirer of Mr. Bawa’s work so a visit to his own house in Colombo was something I looked forward to a great deal. I had to call up and get an appointment a few days ahead and then along with two friends from England, I took the tour of the Architect’s house down 33rd lane, off Bagatalle Road. The Lunuganga Trust manages his private properties and the office is located in a small part of his former residence. After paying for our tickets, the young lady accountant cum tour guide wanted us to watch a video about the house. Two minutes into the video my friends and I realised we’d rather see the house for the first time as we walk through it instead of seeing everything beforehand on this video (although I’m sure there’s a lot of great info in the video so it’s not a bad idea to watch it either!) . Anyway, the video presentation ended abruptly and my little pilgrimage began.
There was an air of tranquility throughout the house…sitting at the end of a quiet lane, with its cool, white, cement floors and muted colour scheme, every area and room was attached to the outdoors bringing in light and ventilation. The house is long and simple which makes for a perfect gallery to showcase all the special pieces of sculpture and art found in every corner. I especially liked the bright white, sun drenched stairwell which led to the guest room and rooftop garden thereafter. The front door was an attractive acid etched tribute to the Sun god by Lucky Senanayake. I discovered an old fashioned lift tucked away unnoticed behind a metal door. The house was simply furnished and looked very lived in, however, the only things that struck me as odd, were in his bedroom. The entrance to the bedroom was blocked by a knee high wall of glass but you could see into it just fine, two big soft toys, a dog and a lion were on either side of his bed… cute but surprising. Also in his bedroom was a large, inflatable chair next to a library of books, which too seemed unlikely but probably was just a comfortable seat to read on.
A clever feature outside the house was a little structure at the end of the lane to hide the garbage bins behind when ready for collection. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the two beauties in his garage… one, a large, well kept, off white, classic 1950’s Mercedes and the other, a huge, black & white, vintage Rolls Royce.
There were so many aspects of this house that caught my attention and I could describe to you but I think it’s a place you should go see for yourself. To me, it was more than just a cool house… it was where a great Sri Lankan legend lived. Since I was never fortunate enough to meet him in person while he was alive, being in his house, sitting in his living room (on chairs he used to sit on), seeing his personal belongings and how he lived, somehow made up for it in a small way. Hopefully I will go see Lunuganga next and someday have my own Bawa inspired house to live in!
To make an appointment to see the house, call The Lunuganga Trust on tel: 2589212 and ask for Ashika (cos the other lady who usually answers the phone is not very accommodating). Tickets are Rs.750 per person and you can check out more pictures of the house on my flickr photostream soon.