Ena de Silva’s amazing house is remarkable for two reasons, the first being that it was designed and built by Sri Lanka’s famed architect Geoffrey Bawa, lauded as the Father of Tropical Modernism.
The second is that it wasn’t always where it is now, having been moved brick by brick, stone by stone, tile by tile—and with lots of tender loving care—from the Colombo suburb of Cinnamon Gardens to its present location.
As Aljazeera online reports: “The house…had been created for the artist and designer Ena de Silva and her husband Osmund in 1960 by Geoffrey Bawa , a man now widely acknowledged as the foremost architect of his generation in Sri Lanka, if not in all of South Asia.”
When Ena, pictured right, was forced to sell, the land was quickly snapped up by an adjoining hospital—but a public outcry over the proposed demolition of the house prompted the Urban Development Authority slap a preservation order on it.
So the only alternative was to dismantle the building and reassemble it at its present location, hence the still-legible jigsaw-like identification marks on every single item, including the pebbles and boulders in the interior courtyard.
This pioneering Bawa house was utterly unconventional for its time, with an interior urban courtyard connected to five smaller courtyards, all bounded by a high wall.
Says Channa Daswatte, an architect and trustee for the Bawa Trust: “It is probably the most important house in the history of contemporary South Asian architecture because it changed the way we looked at ourselves and our past.”
Read the full report here.