Geoffrey Bawa

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INTRODUCTION The Architecture of Geoffrey Bawa has influenced not only Sri Lanka but also the south Asian countries. His works have been described as regional, traditional, culturally rich and often though with some qualification, modern. His projects are a synthesis of Modernist vocabulary and distinct contextual elements, rooted in regional identity and lifestyle of users. Bawa is very much a man of the end of the era - especially when seen in the context of modern movement in the west - because he was trained abroad, is widely read and widely travelled. His architecture seeks to create a situation where man and nature can commune. His work is manifested by two essential factors of time and geography. Rarely do his designs allow architecture to pre-empt the primordial importance of natural surrounding, either by scale or use of material. His most celebrated works are creation of places for vistas onto nature. Barbara Sansoni in Brian Brace Taylor’s “Geoffrey Bawa” aptly quotes - “Arguably, Geoffrey Bawa’s architecture has a meaning to a Sri Lankan far beyond it may have to a foreigner. To Sri Lankans it represents the distillation of centuries of shared experience and links at first level of achievement, its architecture to that of the modern world.” 1 Bawa’s architecture is significant to our times as it suspends between the dichotomies that derives the contemporary architectural debates - regional vs. global, spiritual vs. telematic, traditional vs. futuristic and east vs. west. More important, it is significant to us, developing south Asian countries, which with the present day globalisation have not completely lost their culture. This dissertation attempts to understand critical regionalism and its features, and why it is important to us today. Today because we too are following the trends of the developed world and repeating their mistakes. The dissertation also describes and analyses the works of Geoffrey Bawa to identify him as a critical regionalist. Kenneth Frampton postulates the theory of critical regionalism - to mediate the impact of universal civilization to elements derived indirectly from the place has been treated as an essential premise for this dissertation. Also the basic understanding of pluralist architecture as discussed by Norberg Schulz and Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre’s paper on ‘Why critical regionalism today?’, forms a base to understand critical regionalism. The first chapter helps in understandings a few terms that are related to the dissertation and is necessary to understand them. Thus, it clearly identifies these ‘terms’ and distinguishes them from one another. This chapter describes my understanding of critical regionalism and its features. It also explains how critical regionalism is different from other forms of regionalism and why it is important to us today. The second chapter gives a brief account on Bawa and his architecture. It describes changes and events that are responsible for the contemporary architecture in Sri Lanka. It also puts forth the basis for selection of case studies. The framework of analysis based on the features of critical regionalism has also been described in this chapter. The third chapter explicitly describes the cases with necessary visual images. It also analyses these cases, based on the framework of analysis supplementing with available visuals and sketches to support the analysis. Finally the above analysis is concluded with a comparative review that would verify Bawa as a critical regionalist.

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AIM: To study critical regionalism and its features, and analyze the work of Geoffrey Bawa to conclude whether he could be called a critical regionalist. OBJECTIVES: To understand critical regionalism and its importance today, especially in the developing countries. To create a framework of analysis from the study of feature of critical regionalism. To study the works of Bawa over the period of time and its response to the features of critical...
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