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Tropical Modernism - Lunuganga Estate, Sri Lanka

Posted on 24th Mar, 2017

A recent visit to Sri Lanka provided an introduction to the work of Gefforey Bawa - the country's most prolific and influential architect reknowned for developing the style of architecture know as Tropical Modernism. 

Over 50 years he transformed a derelict rubber estate, Lunuganga, using the house and garden as a laboratory to develop his ideas. Here he brought together elements from different times and places fusing modern & traditional, east meets west, formal and picturesque along with a blending of building with landscape to create his own individual style which continues to have an influence on design and architecture worldwide. The creation of interlinking courtyards, rooms without walls, loggias, verandahs and terraces with pools and fountains, pots and sculpture offering up differing cooling spaces and places, blending house with garden and the wider landscape. 

The Entrance Court - with open sides a cooling place to sit.

Bawa repeatedly used the square motif in his work both inside and outside. He was also keen on using the colour black, recycled and repurposed materials.

The Yellow Courtyard - creating different areas to sit at different times of the day was also a key feature of his designs. Here in his own home he created places around the garden for specific purposes be it breakfast, morning coffee, tea or a gin and tonic.

A passion for sculpture and a keen sense of how to use it in the landscpe is manifest throughout the estate. Artists and sculptors were regulary visitors often creating works in situ that remin to this day. 

Huge and ambitious planting was carried out - Bawa would put weights on to tree branches so that over time beautiful multi-stem trees with interesting shapes would be created to add natural sculptural features to the landscape. 

One of Bawa's multi stem tree scupltures 

A visit to Lunuganga is a must for anyone interested in architecture, gardens and landscape design. 

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