Architecture of Geoffrey Bawa : Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe (Colombo, Sri Lanka)

Now, Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe is popular as a fashionable cafe and gallery, but it was used as the office of Bawa and, looking back further, it had been designed as a private house, but, since the client cancelled just before completion, Bawa took over it as his office.

The reason of the delicate scale of the architecture must attribute to its origin. Even if it was renovated into a office, it is a good example of the residence designed by Bawa and that in the tropical zone.

The site is long and narrow with 15 meters in width and 70 meters in depth. This kind of site form is often seen in the hearts of a built-up city. In this site, three courtyards are arranged and realize skillful combination of indoor, semi-outdoor and outdoor.

When entering the big gate house facing the main street, it is the first and primitive courtyard doubling as a carriage. The gate house and trees block the bustle of a town and are filled with quietness.

After entering a small door and passing the narrow corridor in the dining room wing, the second courtyard appears. It is composed of slender pond in the center, a corridor with a tile roof surrounding the pond, and a light court opened in the sky. Various private rooms, which get in and out of the courtyard, surround those. Though a slender corridor and a pond are only inserted, complexity that indoors, semi-outdoors and outdoors produce brings a vivid air.

Trees hang like roofs and a high wall stand between the neighboring house, so the sky is out of sight. This courtyard blocked from outside sight has a calm atmosphere. It is an air of another living room with large void, lighting by natural light and air-conditioning by natural air.

Now it is not a place to take it easy, because it is used as a space connecting the shop and the cafe and as a gallery. If it had been a residence, it would have been a place to lead a tropical zone life comfortably.

In the next living room wing, rooms are opened without fittings towards the third courtyard at the depth and are integrated into one. Now, the half of the 15 meter square courtyard are covered with a large roof and has changed into the main space of the cafe. In the time of completion, it might be a space like a tiny open field which appeared unexpectedly in the city.

In contrast with the second courtyard that is indoor-like outdoor, the third courtyard is outdoor which bring the spacious and open feeling and doesn’t seem to be in a built-up city.

The method to incorporate a semi-outdoor space and a courtyard into the building is not peculiar to Bawa but often seen in a residence in a tropical big city, but the courtyards in this architecture and especially the second courtyard are a special place that exists only here.

To Japanese Version

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10 minutes by car from downtown Colombo.

Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe


Geoffrey Bawa the Complete Works (David Robson, Thames & Hudson, 2002)

2008.06 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version

2018.01 Change of photos and English text

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Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe (1963)

Photo by Daigo Ishii