BAWA – GENIUS OF THE PLACE. An Architects of Sri Lanka

24 July – 17 Octobe 2004, GF + 1st floor + 3rd floor

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’s significance 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 honoured since the award’s inception.

Bawa came late to architecture, 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 tropical Asian context. Although best known for his private houses and hotels, his portfolio also included schools and universities, factories and offices, public buildings and social buildings as well as the new Sri Lanka Parliament.

Bawa’s work is characterised by a sensitivity to site and context. He produced ‘sustainable architecture’ long before the term was coined, and had developed his own ‘regional modernist’ position. His designs break down the barriers between inside and outside, between building and landscape.

One of Bawa’s most impressive achievements has been the garden at Lunuganga which he has slowly 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 civilised wilderness set within the greater garden of Sri Lanka.

Geoffrey Bawa died in 2003. The German Architecture Museum proposes to celebrate for the first time his whole work in a major exhibition. On three floors it shows plans, photographs, modells, films and furniture. The exhibition produces original ambience with cloth, art and materials of Sri Lanka – a tropical touch in the DAM.

A catalogue for the exhibition already exists in the form of a detailed monograph on the architect by the exhibition’s curator, Professor David Robson “Bawa: the complete works”, Thames & Hudson, 2002 (67 €).

An accompanying book both in English and German is also available for smaller money (12 €).

The exhibition is being produced with the full help and encouragement of the Lunuganga Trust which administers Bawa’s affairs and has the support of the Government of Sri Lanka, the accountants Ernst & Young and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. It is financed by the City of Frankfurt and the accountants Ernst & Young.

Herausgeber: © Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt a.M., Schaumainkai 43, 26.03.2019