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The Sri Lankan Architect Geoffrey Bawa is now regarded as having been one of the most important and influential Asian architects of the twentieth century. Bawa came to architecture late, only qualifying at the age of thirty-eight in 1957, but he soon established himself as Sri Lanka’s most prolific and inventive architect, establishing a whole canon of prototypes for buildings in a post-independence context. His oeuvre includes hotels, houses, schools and universities, factories, offices, numerous public buildings as well as the new Sri Lankan Parliament.

Bawa’s work is characterized by sensitivity to site and context. His work is instinctively, rather than self-consciously, sustainable. His designs break the barriers between inside and outside, between buildings and landscape, and he characteristically links a complex series of spaces—rooms, courtyards, loggias, verandah—with distant vistas in a single scenographic composition.

One of Bawa’s most impressive achievements has been the garden at Lunuganga, which he fashioned for himself from an abandoned rubber estate over a period of fifty years. The result is a series of outdoor rooms conceived with an exquisite sense of theatre as a civilized wilderness set within the greater garden of Sri Lanka. He died in 2003 and was cremated on the Cinnamon Hill of his magical garden. In 2001 Bawa received the special Chairman’s award in the eighth cycle of the Aga Khan award for architecture, becoming only the third architect to be so honored since the awards inception.

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