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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Some Interesting Facts about Geoffrey Bawa – Legendary Architect Par Excellence
Joanna James Joanna James
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Some Interesting Facts about Geoffrey Bawa – Legendary Architect Par Excellence

Geoffrey Bawa, can aptly be described as the father of architecture in Sri Lanka. His concept of 'Tropical Modernism' is well reflected in many of the buildings designed by this legendary visionary.


From Law to Architecture

Born Geoffrey Manning Bawa in 1919, he first studied law and English; it was once he found his true calling by 1957, did this illustrious architect take up architecture at the age of 38. Taking pride of place as an early Geoffrey Bawa hotel is the beautiful property in Wadduwa named The Blue Water Hotel and Spa. This was one of the architect's very first successful projects, thriving today, and one of many adorning the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.


Outstanding Student

Once he found his true calling Geoffrey best known as 'Bawa' studied at the Architectural Association (AA) of London. At the time he was regarded as the most outspoken student, as well as the tallest and oldest; given his late decision to study architecture.


The Father of Architecture in Sri Lanka

Renowned and loved in Sri Lanka, Bawa was first a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects; it was later on in his career that he become a member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects.


A Visionary First

Bawa was a great visionary, but no great draftsman. He conveyed his marvellous ideas through illustrious sketches of his ideas, which his fellow colleagues used to create draft drawings.


A Shy Celebrity

A much adored 'celebrity' Bawa always chose to shy away from the camera and did his utmost to avoid being photographed. Dreading the thought of giving interviews, despite the huge recognition his talents garnered, Geoffrey, tried his utmost to avoid interviews. The only clear recording of his voice, in fact, was discovered quite by accident after his death in London.


An Equally Talented Brother

Geoffrey Bawa's elder brother was Bevis Bawa, ten years older; he too shared the same visionary talents and was too, an exceptional landscape architect, whose talents are reflected at many complexes in Sri Lanka, such as the beautiful Brief Gardens, located a short distance from Wadduwa resorts. Sharing the same physique as his younger sibling, Bevis was six feet seven inches tall.


Siblings with Different Characters

Although sharing the same physique, the two brothers were very different in character. If Geoffrey disliked anything there would be a pin drop silence, an apt indication the architect was not pleased. On the flip side, if his brother, Bevis, disagreed with any point, there were enough words, uttered in the nicest and politest manner.



In 2001 Bawa received the much esteemed Chairman's Award of the Aga Khan for architecture in 2001; he received the trophy at a later stage of his illustrious career and after a stroke left him speechless and paralysed. Bawa passed away in 2003.


He Drove a Fancy Car

Bawa owned a Silver Cloud Rolls Royce and enjoyed long drives along the beautiful south coast roads of Sri Lanka; an elegant vehicle that aptly reflected the calm, quiet nature of the very talented individual that Geoffrey Manning Bawa was.