During Bawa’s View tour you get the opportunity stay in some of highly successful Bawa designed hotels and visit some of his masterpieces such as Sri Lanka’s new Parliament building, Bawa’s residence and many other Bawa designed architecture.
Some of the hotels that you will stay during your Bawa’s View tour are Bentota Beach, Heritance Ahungalla, Avani Bentota Resort and Spa, Lighthouse, and Kandalama.
Bentota Beach hotel, constructed between 1967 and 1969, appears like a fortress on the banks of a large dead river. It is an iconic example of Bawa’s architectural style during the 1960s, as well as the critical model for hotel design in tropical.
A former ancient colonial Dutch fortification is the site of the central building of the hotel which stands atop a sand mound. The building is encircled by a large stone podium built around the original sand mound. The first level of the building is square with a central courtyard surrounded by a ring of galleries. The other key feature of the first level is the exotic restaurant located affording soothing ocean views to diners.
The second and third levels of the central building are L-shaped. The second level appears to cantilever over the roof of the first floor while the third floor appears to cantilever over the roof of the second. The profile of the building is suggestive of an inverted pyramid which is characteristically a local tradition found in ancient temples and palaces.
The hotel site declines down from the hill, which anchors the main hotel building, toward the Indian Ocean at the west. As you enter the hotel through the porte cochère, which is carved into a masonry podium on the eastern side of the building, a stone staircase takes you to the reception lobby. The massive stone walls of the hotel signify the Dutch fortification structures on the island. All guest rooms of the hotel give panaromic views either of the Indian Ocean or the Bentota River, ensuring maximum satisfaction of all the guests from their private balconies.
This 125-room beachfront hotel, which was constructed in 1981 by Bawa, located on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, gives stunning views of the ocean and beach through the open lobby across a wide swimming pool. Heritance Ahungalla is a finest example of Bawa’s handling of reinforced concrete with same approaches that he has with the use of bricks and timber.
Heritance Ahungalla is long and narrow and winds around the water’s edge along the shore with guest rooms running parallel to the ocean. The building is uniformly three stories tall throughout. Bawa looped hallways forming a handful number of garden courtyards bounded by open spaces to circulate air. Some courtyards are gardens formed adjacent to the guest rooms, while the large swimming pool occupies the central courtyards.
Heritance Ahungalla comprises of little ornament decorations and features distinguishable and simple architectural details. The restraining of architecture is expected to foreground the oceanic views and outside landscape to the visitors. The walls, columns, and ceilings of the hotel are painted in pale gold with a white sheen, while interior spaces are in light colors with floors in neutral tones. Bawa used planters in open-air lobbies and hallways to blur interior and exterior dimensions of space.
Due to Bawa’s understanding of spatial planning and sophistication, Heritance Ahungalla continues to exert a powerful effect on visitors.
The Lighthouse hotel is a luxury hotel, commissioned in 1995, situated to the north of Galle, 124 km south of Colombo. The hotel is sited on a rocky peninsular outcrop with stunning views of the ocean and the historic and celebrated Dutch Fortress in Galle. This is a signature move of Bawa to have a famed site at a visible distance across a natural topography.
The entrance walkway runs through the reception and a vertical drum to the upper terraces and restaurants. The drum encloses the main stair which spirals up with sculptures of warriors featuring the war between the Dutch and Sinhalese (Sri Lankans).
The undertone of the design is to braze crashing of the ocean waves and the tranquility of sheltered areas of the hotel. Each single space within the hotel building appears to be incomplete. And architecture of each single space emerges as a consequence of the preceding space and appears to shape the design of the succeeding space. Retaining links with its neighboring spaces invites visitors to explore the hotel continually.
Ornaments of old Sri Lankan rest houses are placed in lounges and restaurants to bring nostalgic memories, while terraces and verandahs are furnished with solid and rugged items to withstand rough monsoon seasons.
Bawa designed Avani Bentota Resort and Spa beach hotel, parallel to the beach, neighboring the Bentota Beach Hotel (another piece of work of Bawa), in Bentota, 85 km south of Colombo.
The hotel runs parallel to the beach and the railway. The main arrangement consists of a series of longitudinal sections confined between the railway and the beach. The longitudinal sections comprises of the porte cochère, the service wall, the garden, the access corridors, the lines of bedroom cells, the private verandahs, the coconut grove and the beach. However, a cross axial (lateral) space pierces the sections starting from the porte cochère through to the edge of the ocean. This masterful sleight gives visitors to observe the architecture of the hotel at one.
The core of the hotel consists of two parallel buildings enclosing a string of courtyards; one facing the street side and the other facing the ocean. The street side building contains offices, kitchens and service spaces, while ocean side building contains guest rooms.
The hotel was further extended towards the south with further guest rooms, a swimming pool and a poolside café. The café is a great piece of art with a structure similar to that of ancient Embekke Temple, near kandy. Glass walls are used in a parallel manner to create sub internal and external spaces.
This masterpiece of Bawa is situated, on the outskirts of Dambulla, overlooking Sigiriya Rock. Sigiriya is an ancient Sinhalese royal complex built, in the 15th century A.D., atop a massive Rock, and placed northeast of Kandalama Hotel. The architecture, landscape, and frescoes extraordinarily frame and harmonize the famed ruins at Sigiriya and surrounding topography.
Although originally planned to have an adjacent site to Sigiriya to build the hotel, Bawa insisted that the hotel is sited 11 kilometers southwest of the ancient royal complex Sigiriya. This allows for panoramic views of Sigiriya across the horizon of the Kandalama Lake from the hotel.
The cave-like porte cochère, bordered from one side by a rock face which the primary hotel building wraps, is one of the most salient features of Kandalama hotel. Visitors enter the hotel through this canopied area which leads to a tunnel-like, tapered, and enclosed walkaway. This breath interrupting walk will suddenly come to liberation as the visitor sight the panoramic view over the Kandalama Lake at the open-air lobby. This is a masterful chorographical move of Bawa to delay and then dramatize the entrance.
Kandalama hotel building consists of three primary sections all wrapping around the steep rock outcrop. Common hotel facilities such as the restaurants, lobby, and pools are located at the centre of the complex. The east and southwest extensions of the building consist of guest rooms. The east extension rooms, also known as the Sigiriya Wing, provide a distant view of Sigiriya rock across the Kandalama Lake. The other guest room accommodations cascade down the rock face towards the Kandalama Lake below. Since the hotel is located in the central dry zone, unlike many of Bawa’s other buildings coastal areas, the building is design with flat roofs to battle through warm seasons. The delicacy of architecture within the hotel site foregrounds the panoramic topography and views.
The hotel also features an innovative Building Management System with technologies and systems designed to sustain environmental impacts of the hotel’s operations on the catchment of the Kandalama Lake. The Kandalama Hotel is one of Bawa’s landmarks and it clearly displays Bawa’s understanding and awareness of spatial sequences and architectural narratives and the hotel is also among top 1001 buildings you must see before you die.