Managed by The New English School Trust (NEST)
Visit to Sri Lanka – Pearl of Indian Ocean
A study tour is a unique travel experience that combines learning with travelling. It is an experience where students study as an alternative to traditional classroom based learning. As we all know world is also an effective classroom.
In architecture study tours are a great way to learn new things about different cultures and their socio-economic statuses which help them build compassion and better understanding for these cultures. Being exposed first hand to things related to study creates a lot of opportunities for students to discover new interests, explore new terrains, people and places.
The objective of the tour was to explore the work of Legendary Architect Geoffery Bawa (1919-2003) known for the Tropical Modernism.
He was among the most influential Asian architects of his generation. He is the principal force behind what is today known globally as ‘Tropical Modernism’. He transformed the look of South East Asia. In short Bawa tailored modern building to a specific environment. His career was marked by a sensitive approach to the environment and a unique balance between the modern and the vernacular architecture.
Sri Lanka has a diverse landscapes ranging from rainforest and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including 5th century citadel Sigiriya, with is palace and frescoes.
Sri Lanka was formerly known as Ceylon and the present capital is Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte but Colombo is the commercial capital.
Currency – Sri Lankan Ruppes
Area – 65,610 sq km
Population – 20,064,776
Language – Sinhala, Tamil
Religion – Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim
Day 1 – 6th January 2019, Kandy
Our Journey started with the visit to the city of Kandy a major Sri Lankan city of Central Province which was primarily a Dutch Colonial Settlement.
We visited wood factory where Oak Ray hand crafted wood carvings and the best wood carving collection in Sri Lanka were seen by us.
Gem Musuem: We were shown the documentary movie of process of gem extraction (mining) and life size model showing the extraction process.
Good architectural and interior design exploration of natural and artificial light for museum design was experienced by us.
Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddhist Statue: It was a Buddha statue 88 ft. in height and one of the biggest Buddha statue is Sri Lanka. The location of this gave us the opportunity to enjoy the aerial view of the Dutch Colonial settlement with its grand buildings and well planned streets.
Temple of Tooth: This temple houses the sacred tooth relic of Buddha. The complex also consists of the Royal Palace, the Royal Residence, the Audience Hall and the Grand main entrance. The main attraction of this temple was the Golden Canopy over the main shrine built by Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1987.
We also got a chance to see the Dutch colonial architecture like the City Square, the jail and the grand Churches in the evening.
Day 2 – 7th January 2019, Damulla
Visit to Sigiriya Rock Caves, Matale District, Damulla: An ancient fortress and the Sigiriya Citadel rock with 1200 steps, famous in folk lures as the palace of Ravana was explored by us. It had wide security moats and a settlement within the fortress on the ground.
According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by king Kasyapa (477-495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. There was a gateway to the citadel in the form of an enormous lion. It is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site.
Sigiriya Musuem: We visited this museum designed by Japanese Architect which was a marvel displaying the Sigiriya Complex in the most modern ways. The architecture was very inspiring in terms of perfect site location (green design) and wonderful play of natural and artificial light and synchronized movement pattern.
Heritance Kandalam Hotel: by Geoffery Bawa
We visited this hotel which is the finest example of environmental sensitivity and contemporary / traditional balance between modern and vernacular architecture.
Confronted with a site at the foot of King Kasyapa's rock citadel, the architect persuaded the client to choose an alternative site, approximately 15km south on rocky terrain. The striking natural features proved a design challenge that the architect addressed by minimizing the impact of construction on the site. No earth-moving machines were used, and the sizable rock formations were kept, becoming an important element in the final design. Other important elements of the design include its sitting along the existing ridges, exterior walkways along the cliff face of the hotel wings, and wood trellises with climbing vegetation. These elements help to blend the building into the site, create a relationship to its surroundings through exterior space, and blur the distinction between the natural and man-made, respectively. The masterful sitting, spatial ambiguity, and facade articulation combine to create a one-of-a-kind experience for the traveler that is not common in an age of chain hotels and contextual ignorance..
Day 3 – 8th January 2019, Kandy and left for Bentota
Kandy house: by Ar. Geoffery Bawa
This work of Geoffery Bawa was designed as house but now converted to Boutique hotel. We experienced the wide beautiful and arcaded verandahs and courtyards.
New Ranweli Spice garden was visited on the way to Bentota, the guide was very passionate and the students learnt a lot about the spices mainly cinnamon and cardamom.
After spice garden we visited the World famous Pinnawal Elephant Orphanage Zoo in Rambukkand
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants located at Pinnawala village. The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1975 for feeding and providing care and sanctuary to orphaned baby elephants that were found in the wild. We viewed the care and daily routine of the elephants, such as bottle feeding of elephant calves, feeding of all other elephants, and bathing in the Ma Oya (River).
Day 4 – 9th January 2019, Bentota
Brief Garden, Kalawila Village, Beruwala, Bentota: by Bewis Bawa, 1929
Bevis Bawa was born on the 26th of April 1909 to Benjamin Bawa, a noted lawyer.
Brief garden is a wonderful stretch of impeccably designed landscape. Spread over a couple of acres of land which is located about eight kilometres off Bentota, Brief Garden houses mesmerizingly beautiful Japanese-style gardens and lawns inspired from the colonial days. It has been home to the famous architect Bevis Bawa, some of whose works are showcased here, along with several other artists from Sri Lanka as well as abroad.
Dutch Fort city: Galle
Galle Fort in the Bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years maintains a polished appearance, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. The fort has a colorful history, and today has a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population. The Sri Lankan government and many Dutch people who still own some of the properties inside the fort are looking at making this one of the modern wonders of the world. The heritage value of the fort has been recognized by the UNESCO and the site has been inscribed as a cultural heritage UNESCO World Heritage Site under criteria iv, for its unique exposition of "an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries."
Students got a chance to see a live examples of adaptive reuse of old colonial buildings in the form of cafes, museums, hotels, hospitals, shopping mall, etc
Jetwing Light House: Galle, Ar. Geoffery Bawa
A five star hotel designed by Ar. Geoffery Bawa was visited on the way to the Dutch fort city with picturesque view and marvelous architecture inspired by the strong context of fort and conceptualized as a ship.
Hikkaduwa Beach: Galle
We visited the world famous beach which has been attracting tourist since 1960. The beach stretches, spans over kilometers. It was clean, beautiful and also turtles were spotted near the beach.
Day 5 – 10th January 2019, Colombo
New Parliament house by Ar. Geoffery Bawa
Visited the New Parliament house designed by Geoffery Bawa. We got the chance to experience the grandeur of public and administrative architecture built in the calm and tranquil setting of a large water body and the parliament house sitting on it in the middle of the island. We also got a chance to sit in the assembly hall and witness the ongoing parliamentary procedure.
In the evening we explored the Colombo city with a unique experience of local train running along the beach.
Day 6 – 11th January 2019, Colombo
Bawa house Number 11:
The Bawa house was the hub of Geoffery Bawa city life, the finest example of amalgamation of modern and vernacular architecture where every artifact in the house has a story to tell. There were series of small light wells to lit the inside spaces in the dense urban fabric. Number 11 is considered a special architecture marvel.
The Gallery Café: The reincarnated office of Ar. Geoffery Bawa.
This café houses the former office of Geoffery Bawa. We experienced the design of colonial bungalow converted into a modern day café with entrance courtyard, open dining area, other intimate courtyards, and reflecting pools amidst dense urban setting.
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