BAWA Staircases – a loving tribute to a master

BAWA Staircases published by Talisman of Singapore and Laurence King of London was launched on 15 November at Barefoot Gallery.

Written by Geoffrey Bawa’s official biographer David Robson in collaboration with architectural photographer Sebastian Posingis, the book is a compelling addition to the literature on Sri Lanka’s preeminent architect, Geoffrey Bawa.
The book was launched just in time marking Geoffrey Bawa’s centenary of birth on 23 July 2019.

Speaking at the book launch, David Robson said: “I am very pleased with how the book came out and its arriving in time for his 100th. In a way this is a tribute to Geoffrey Bawa.”

An architect himself, David went on to discuss how Bawa was a master at designing staircases, and that: “None of it was the same”.

He said: “Staircases to me are the most iconic part of a building; they exist in four dimensions, allowing us to progress from one level to the next. Bawa was absolutely theatrical in his staircases.”

Aimed at architecture students and professionals, Bawa Staircases describes in detail this very fact, of Bawa’s theatricality when it came to their structures. The book offers a primer of how staircases are often the most dynamic spatial elements of a building or landscape. It showcases Bawa’s numerous and varied architectural and landscape designs for residential, public works, gardens, and hotel architecture, with particular reference to the staircases he created.

David has been writing about Geoffrey Bawa for over 25 years, reminiscing about the very first time he launched a book in Sri Lanka, Geoffrey Bawa: The Complete Works in 2002, elaborated: “Geoffrey Bawa was present at that launch, but he had suffered a stroke some four years prior and he was partially paralysed, but he was present and he was sobbing. I have no idea whether he liked it or not, but the book has gone on to sell over 30,000 copies and that’s purely a testament to Bawa and not to me.”

David also discussed the predicament of many of Bawa’s early works, “one by one, his buildings are being besmirched and demolished, and soon there will be very few left to bear witness to his genius,” he said.

David’s insightful texts are accompanied throughout by the lush photography by Sebastian Posingis. A graduate of anthropology, Sebastian spent much of his childhood in Sri Lanka and India. Upon completion of his degree, Sebastian turned to his first love of architectural photography. His work has appeared in many books, newspapers and magazines around the world.

BAWA Staircases adds to therich collection of Bawa’s architectural literature depicting his most formidable work, lovingly curated, accompanied by contextual shots, plans and drawings, and the work of an architectural master. The book is now available for purchase at the Barefoot bookshop.

Bu Dimithri Wijesinghe

Photos Krishan Kariyawasam