Geoffrey Bawa (1919 to 2003)

Geoffrey Bawa (1919 to 2003)

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Sri Lanka

In 2004 Thomas Merkel got to know the architecture and work of Geoffrey Bawa for the first time. It was actually a coincidence that he stayed at the Serendib Hotel in Bentota, but he quickly realized that it was a special place.

Back from Sri Lanka, he continued to find out more about Geoffrey Bawa and in October of the same year he visited the exhibition "Geoffrey Bawa - Genius of the Place. An Architect of Sri Lanka" at the Deutsches Architektur Museum in Frankfurt.

"So it was clear for me that I wanted to experience further works by the architect myself. It was to take a few years, however, but then I was able to fulfil this wish in 2012 and 2014."

 
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Serendib Hotel
Bentota 1967 - 1970

In the summer of 2004, before the tsunami, Thomas Merkel visited Sri Lanka and Asia for the first time. It was here that the foundations were laid for his interest in Asia and Geoffrey Bawa.

Upon entering the hotel, a courtyard opens up with a garden and a central water basin. An area lined with palm trees separates the building from the beach and the sea.
 
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Blue Water Hotel
Wadduwa 1996 - 1998

In 2012, after eight years, Thomas Merkel was able to fulfill his wish to travel to Sri Lanka again and stay in a hotel owned by Geoffrey Bawa.

He was very enthusiastic about the Blue Water, as the building almost pours towards the sea. The transition of the public areas from inside to outside is fluid.
 
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Lighthouse Hotel
Galle 1995 - 1997

In the same year, Thomas Merkel also visited the Lighthouse Hotel. Here one finds a group of figures, which forms the railing, very exposed in the stairwell of the hotel. Geoffrey Bawa has frequently collaborated with artists. When you reach the first upper level, the view opens directly onto the sea.

In 2014 he came back to this hotel again.
 
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Bentota Beach Hotel
Bentota 1967 - 1969

In 2014 Thomas Merkel visited Sri Lanka again to see other buildings by Geoffrey Bawa.

The starting point was the Bentota Beach Hotel which is right next to the Serendib Hotel visited in 2004. Again, Geoffrey Bawa has collaborated with artists and used the enrichment. The ceiling in the lobby, for example, is made from batik by a local artist. Like the Serendib Hotel, this hotel has an inner courtyard with a water basin.
 
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Lunuganga
Bentota 1948 - 1998

With the visit to Lunuganga, Thomas Merkel has fulfilled a long-cherished wish. He used the physical proximity to the Bentota Beach Hotel to fulfill them.

Admittedly, it wasn't easy to find this garden, no signs and then only a bell on a gate and far and wide not a house and not a person. It takes trust and a ringing of the bell ... and then someone comes, opens the gate and you are given a wonderful, detailed tour of Geoffrey Bawa's life's work.
 
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Triton Hotel
Ahungalla 1979 - 1981

In 2014, Thomas Merkel also visited the Triton Hotel. As in the Blue Water Hotel and the Lighthouse Hotel, you can see the sea when you enter the complex, because that is how the impressive sight lines are laid out. Artists have designed the walls here and green courtyards bring nature indoors.
 
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33rd Lane
Colombo 1960 - 1998

Visiting the private home of Geoffrey Bawa in Colombo was the crowning highlight of Thomas Merkel's 2014 trip. With an appointment, this was possible and on 22.07.2014 he was able to experience the private world of Geoffrey Bawa. When you know something from many documentaries, films and books and then all of a sudden you are really there, it is an intense experience.
 
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House for Dr. Bartholomeusz
Colombo 1961 - 1963

Still full of impressions of 33rd Lane, Thomas Merkel then visited the restaurant, which is now located in the house of Dr. Bartholomeusz. He knew the architecture from many photos. The preparations for the exhibition of the Geoffrey Bawa Award were underway.
 
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Seema Malaka
Colombo 1976 - 1978

Geoffrey Bawa has also designed a small Buddhist temple in the capital Colombo. This is located in the middle of the matcha green Beira Lake. The temple was redesigned by Geoffrey Bawa in 1976 after the original structure had slowly sunk.

For his upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, Thomas Merkel is planning to visit the Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla and take the opportunity to stay overnight in Lunuganga. He also wants to climb Adam's Peak.

"Getting to know the work of Geoffrey Bawa has enriched and deeply moved me. Since 2004, I have been enthralled by his extensive work and have taken opportunities to experience it for myself. His buildings flow into their surroundings. They are not business cards of self-absorbed architects who set themselves the most spectacular monuments possible, but places. His architecture is part of the environment, like a mountain, a lake or a tree. I think this is valuable, which is why I created this page."

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