An iconic beach hotel designed by legendary Sri Lanka architect Geoffrey Bawa, renowned as the ‘father of tropical modernism’, is to be pulled down and rebuilt.

Geoffrey Bawa, above, and protégé Channa Daswatte.

Geoffrey Bawa, above, and protégé Channa Daswatte.

The masterpiece Bentota Beach, commissioned by the Sri Lankan government in the 1960s to replace an old rest house, reflects both ancient Sinhalese architecture as well as the colonial Dutch fortification on the site.

Mirror Business reports JKH Leisure Industry President Krishan Balendra as saying: “The hotel was getting old. But the centre block, which is the Bawa block, will be rebuilt in exactly the same way.”

Balendra confirmed that “following consultations with experts, who also advised against refurbishing since the structure is too old, Bawa protégé Channa Daswatte has been selected to design the new hotel” at a cost of “around Rs.4 billion”.

The current hotel, a 4-star 133-key property, will become a 5-star establishment with 150 rooms once it is reconstructed in two and a half years time.

ArchNet review

Says the ArchNet website: “The hotel is located on a unique and picturesque site between two beaches in Bentota, a sixty-kilometer drive south of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The site is to the immediate southwest of a major bridge that crosses the Bentota River as it passes within 200 meters of the Indian Ocean, creating a long and narrow spit of land to the northwest of the site.

“The central building of the hotel is located atop an existing sand mound that was previously the site of a colonial Dutch fortification. The building is square in plan at the first level, excepting a trapezoidal extension of the northern gallery beyond the eastern edge of the square.

“The Bentota Beach Hotel contains ninety guest rooms. The brief originally called for thirty rooms, which were placed in the L-shaped second and third floors of the central building. Additional guest wings to the north and south of the main structure were added later to increase the capacity of the hotel.

“These long and narrow two-story wings contain twenty and forty rooms respectively, pinwheeling off of the northeast and southwest corners of the central square as bent single-loaded corridors. All guest rooms face either the Indian Ocean to the west or the Bentota River to the north, assuring all visitors spectacular views from their private balconies.”


The Bentota Beach Hotel as it looked in the 1960s when first built.

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