Two houses built in 1720 and 1740 were adapted to serve contemporary needs by reorienting the building through the subtraction and addition of walls and doors. Both structures faced directly onto the main Colombo-Galle road in Bentota. The nearly five acre site lushly planted with ancient trees slopes from the high point of the main road to rice fields on the east side.
One of the houses remained in situ, although rotated so that it no longer looked to the street, while the other building across the street was carefully demolished and stripped of salvageable materials, for example framed doorways and windows as well as upper floor wooden columns.
The main house's changed orientation was just the first structural amendment. Exact drawings led to the erection of a staircase to reach the upper floor, which had served as a hard to reach storage place. Walls were removed, a verandah was added to the east side, and a blind wall built was built along the roadside to create privacy. The house itself was re-formed by replacing entire walls to the front and back verandah with sheet glass. This structural modification dramatized the effect of the antique wooden doors, that were made to appear as floating architectural objects.
Taylor, Brian Brace, ed. 1996. Houses. In Geoffrey Bawa. A Mimar Book, Concept Media, 66.
Robson, David. “Genius of the Place: The Buildings and Landscapes of Geoffrey Bawa.” In Modernity and Community: Architecture in the Islamic World, edited by Philippa Baker, 17-48. London: Thames & Hudson, 2001.
Geoffrey Bawa is Sri Lanka's most prolific and influential architect. His work has had tremendous impact upon architecture throughout Asia and is unanimously acclaimed by connoisseurs of architecture worldwide. Highly personal in his approach, evoking the pleasures of the senses that go hand in hand with the climate, landscape, and culture of ancient Ceylon, Bawa brings together an appreciation of the Western humanist tradition in architecture with needs and lifestyles of his own country. Although Bawa came to practice at the age of 38, his buildings over the last 25 or more years are widely acclaimed in Sri Lanka. The intense devotion he brings to composing his architecture in an intimate relationship with nature is witnessed by his attention to landscape and vegetation, the crucial setting for his architecture. His sensitivity to environment is reflected in his careful attention to the sequencing of space, the creation of vistas, courtyards, and walkways, the use of materials and treatment of details.
Source: Khan, Hassan-Uddin. 1995. In Contemporary Asian Architects. Köln: Taschen Books. Robson, David. 2001. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture Chairman's Award.