Geoffrey Bawa (23 July 1919 – 27 May 2003) was born in 1919. His father was a wealthy and successful lawyer, of Muslim and English parentage, and his mother, Bertha Marianne Schrader, was of mixed German, Scottish and Sinhalese descent. He had one older brother Bevis Bawa who became a renowned landscape architect.
Geoffrey Bawa studied English and Law in Cambridge, UK, gaining a BA and later become a Barrister. Returning to Ceylon, after World War II, he started working for a Colombo Law firm. After the death of his mother he left the profession and soon left to travel to the Far East, across the United States and finally to Europe and almost settling in Italy. After his return to Sri Lanka, Bawa bought an abandoned rubber estate at Lunuganga planning to creating an Italian garden from a tropical wilderness. However he soon found that his ideas were compromised by his lack of technical knowledge. Bawa returned to England and, after spending a year at Cambridge, enrolled as a student at the Architectural Association in London, and at the age of 38 he returned to Sri Lanka qualified as an architect.
Bawa became an Associate of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects in 1960. An ensuing close association with a coterie of like-minded artists and designers, including Ena de Silva, Barbara Sansoni and Laki Senanayake, produced a new awareness of indigenous materials and crafts, leading to a post colonial renaissance of culture.
Geoffrey Bawa’s work range mainly in Sri Lanka, however he has worked in several other countries as well: nine times in India, three times in Indonesia, twice in Mauritius and once in Japan, Pakistan, Fiji, Egypt and Singapore. His works include houses, hotels, schools, clubs, offices and government buildings.
Bawa’s buildings are not just bricks and mortar, but the expression of intangible emotions. Heritance Kandalama is the living embodiment of Geoffrey Bawa’s architectural vision.
His best known works are Lunuganga (his own garden in Bentota that he designed over a 40-year period), the Parliament of Sri Lanka and the Madurai Club in India.
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. His international standing was confirmed in 2001 when he received the special chairman’s award in the eighth cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, becoming only the third architect and the first non-Moslem to be so honored since the award’s inception.0