Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Outdoing Bawa

Geoffrey Bawa was undoubtedly a genius and it is only to be expected that he will have many followers. Unfortunately it seems to me that some of his ideas are becoming rather overused.

I have just seen some pictures of the former Villa Mohotti and they have left me rather uneasy. The Villa had been redone and it was perfect, needing nothing more than a little maintenance. I believe it was a ruin that was restored by Bawa himself.

However the new owners have gone and added new buildings and crammed the place with furniture, leaving it looking rather overcrowded.

None of the buildings can be described as ugly but I think it is important to retain a certain amount of empty space-both within and without a building.

The same mistake is evident in the other property recently renovated by the same owners - Tintagel on Rosmead Place. The building looks very nice from the outside, but step inside and one finds the place chock-a-block with ultra modern furniture that simply does not go with the main building. Step outside into the terrace (it used to be a lawn) and one meets another concrete jungle of paving stones and concrete tables under umbrellas with scarcely any space to move.

I have once visited Tintagel in its previous state and rather liked the lawn and the blue cement floors, both of which have now gone. I think the lawn at the back was sacrificed for part of the swimming pool, which I think was unnecessary.

Fitting in the maximum number of tables in a given space might sound sensible from a business point of view but it takes away from atmosphere of the place, which is what true boutique hotels are all about.

Presumably the new owners are awaiting a huge tourism boom and have added enough capacity to make the most of it but they may have inadvertently ended up taking their properties downmarket, rather than upmarket.

I don't see myself visiting either of the places.


Dulan said...

Its' a shame when things like that happen, isn't it?

I guess the "old world charm" wasn't what the new owners were going for. Of course, not having seen the places myself, can't really comment.

But as for taking a perfectly good place and ruining it in an attempt to "get modern" - I totally understand how you feel.

Happy new year, btw!

Serendib_Isle said...

Haven't been to Villa Mohotti, but agree with you on Tintagel.

Jack Point said...


drop in and have a look, just for curiosity's sake. You can probably order a snack or something relatively inexpensive-that is what I did with Tintagel anyway. It is deserted so they should be happy to get what business they can.

Serendib, have a look at the Villa when you go down-its just just past the bridge in Bentota (a little before Taj Exotica on the beach).

The real pity is that the Villa is situated on what is possibly the nicest stretch of beach on the west coast. There are only three places on that stretch, a the Villa and a similar house next door and the Taj Exotica. Very private, very charming.

They have set up a restaurant so it should be possible; just to stop by for lunch or tea and check it out.

Jack Point said...

Happy new year to you too Dulan.

Anonymous said...


Dee said...

thought tintagel was well known and patronised..hmm :S anyway HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too! :D

Jack Point said...

Thanks Dee. I think Tintagel is fairly well known but I pass the place frequently and have rarely seen many cars parked inside.

Anonymous said...

You are very correct in saying Bawa's designs do not make business sense. His creations are spaccious but the space is part of the design and should not be filled/cluttered.
Of course they don't make business sense unless they are purpose built. Kandalama works well and so does Ruhuna university. Does Murad's house work well ? I am not so sure.
The point I am trying to make [without any sucess so far] is that as his designs are simple and as space is huge part of it that nothing much can be done, if you want a functional and a profit making venture.
The flow and the space will be abruptly distrubed unless it is purpose built.
On the other hand Anjalendran is an entirely a diffrent kettle of fish. Complicated nuisance and people who live in his creations can do tons to simplify the space.

Jack Point said...

Thanks anon for that insightful comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jack, Tintagel seems to be getting rave reviews from tourists visiting Sri Lanka. Check it out:

Jack Point said...

Thanks Anon