It is Essential to be There




House in Mirissa: Site Plan, drawing by Waruna Gomis, 1997


How should we look at the drawings in the Geoffrey Bawa Archive? An exquisite collection of primarily pen and ink drawings, they are mostly unconventional and curiously redrawn repeatedly.


These drawings, in which trees are drawn as specifically as columns, and details from pebbles on pathways to perfectly located planters are integral elements rather than adornments, defy a profession that is today governed by billable hours and tyrannical building codes. The Architectural Drawing is inherently an abstraction; a document which translates idea to materiality, transmitting information through synapses in media, people and resources, jumping scales of magnitude at each step. While the drawings in the Geoffrey Bawa Archive remain equally abstract, they are intended less often as instructions for construction and more as documents that capture the essential sensibility of a building. The instructions themselves, more often than not, happened on site, in person, through dialogue between the architect and the builder.

This exhibition proposes an examination of the drawings in the Bawa Archive, with the hopes of looking closer at the practice itself and many of the unique features that characterized it. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue publication including essays by Sean Anderson, Shirley Surya, Amitav Ghosh and Shayari de Silva.

25 June – 31 July 2020

Venue: To be confirmed