My last two days in Sri Lanka end up with languishing in the last resort designed by the late Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most well known tropical modernist architect. The secluded Anantara Kalutara which sits on the end of a narrow peninsula between the ocean and a lagoon, was designed before Bawa’s death in 2003, but only opened late last year, due to set backs due caused by the devastation of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. The completion and delivery was overseen by, Channa Daswatta of MICD Associates, equally ensconced in the “Tropical Modernist” genre, Bawa is attributed for championing. Lets have a look….
After literally being “danced” into the guest registration, you are struck with the grandure of the soaring spaces where Bawa’s architecture is at one with the tropical surroundings. Inside and outside blend seamlessly, and you barely notice you are actually in an un-airconditioned pavilion, designed for the maximum pleasure of its inhabitants. Bawa’s characteristic meld of post tropical colonial revival, and traditional Ceylonese architecture has a calming effect with it’s rhythmic repetition of simplified classical, beautifully proportioned elements. Colonial classic elements, like rattan timber furniture, sash windows, shutters and ceiling fans sit elegantly within modernist volumes and arrangement of space. Traditional Ceylonese crafts and fabrics define the vernacular flavour from other contemporary colonial resorts elsewhere.
The Luxurious rooms start at 65 m2m with every amenity you could want, at a residential feel and scale. I’m a big fan of the bed facing the view, not TV and combined shower room with freestanding bath with outlook to a view. Only my curiousity to explore the tropical resort grounds, spa and nearby beach drew me out.
The Spa has a lush, tranquil inner courtyard escape, within an escape, and oversized treatment rooms. The journey within, has a natural progression. The wild ocean beach is a short walk away, with only a few locals meandering about. The tucked away library got me. Its not a bar, cafe or cigar room come library. It’s feels like quiet comfortable, private architect’s studio dedicated to drawings and books on Bawa and other contemporary artists with a passion for the vernacular tropical colonial culture and life in Sri Lanka. I spent a few hours there in awe, gaining an introduction to his influences.
This Anantara has the best of both worlds – wild ocean beach and serene lagoon, with modern colonial architecture in between, and genteel welcoming staff.
Hmmm where to next???
Check out my exploration of the Antithesis setting Anantara in the desert, Qasr Al Sarab
Photos by the Author, with room and spa images from Anantara website.