Number 11, Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa’s private residence in Colombo, is an eclectic lesson in refined taste. At once architecturally cultured and almost primitively executed, it is peppered with unexpected follies and exotic moments of the outside brought in.
Elegant and raw, tactile rendered walls meet glossy epoxied floors and heavy thick arched walls provide cool comfort. Intricate traditional carved timber doors and columns represent the abundant local craftsmanship. Peppered around the house are Bawa’s own furniture designs, prototypes for the pieces he designed for hotels and homes around the country and the world, a delicate combination of new vision and traditional materials. Meticulous attention to decorative detail are present in Bawa designed glass and brass wall sconce and sinuous cast wrought iron balustrade, which snakes from the ground floor up the tower to the roof terrace.
Sensitive to his tropical surroundings Bawa’s house is abundant in air and light. Areas are separated by gardens and courtyards so short courtyard exterior vistas are always present. Rustic stones inlaid in the floor or an impromptu stone bench are constant reminders of the relationship between the built environment and nature. It’s this perfect interior/exterior balance that creates such an idyllic tranquil gallery-esque home.
Alive with culture, his highly curated interiors include textile masterpieces by Ena de Silva and hand-painted doors by Australian artist Donald Friend (the originals of which can be found in the Art Gallery of New South Wales). Skillful at uniting the unlikely, religious artefacts preside over contemporary sculpture in a pastiche of exotic, vernacular, tribal and modern influences.
Recently visited by Arent&Pyke designer Dominique, the exotic enchantment and timelessness of Bawa’s own home is undeniably captivating. Bawa’s mix of Asian soul and European education is clearly expressed in his architectural and interior genius.
The doors of Bawa home are thrown open to visitors for accommodation and house tours.
Photography by: Dominique Brammah