The Bentota Beach hotel along the sea in Bentota was one of Bawa’s earliest projects commissioned by the Sri Lankan government. The young architect then took inspiration from traditional Sri Lankan architecture with the pitched roofs, a central courtyard, the frangi-pani tree, stepped in facade volumes and tropical verandahs. Facing the western coastline of Sri Lanka, the Bentota beach hotel is set on the terrain bordered by a railway line and the beach. Swimming pools here again are set on the rocky terrain.
The setting sun beams its rays on the lightly set hotel building lighting up the facade in a golden gleam.
The hotel is a part of a larger urban development plan of the region, designed as a leisure spot for tourism.
The courtyard on the upper level, are fraught with beautiful Frangi-panis composed in a pool of placid waters. On a particularly overcast morning, tones of grey frame the aesthetically inclined plants. In the rooms, Bawa has articulated the facade to incorporate varied windows. The hotel was first intended to not be air-conditioned and thus louvers are used extensively to serve as second tiered screening systems, cutting out the sun whilst drawing in the breezes. A much-wanted functional aspect in tropical design.
Fabrics and burmese teak form the bulk of the interiors in addition to brightly used color in the interiors. The reception area is canvas to beautifully done Batik fabric work on the ceiling. The rooms though in spatial planning seem very cramped and crowded in their design, something that could only be attributed to a lack to finesse yet in the young architect. Or witness to the fact that it was only practise that honed Bawa’s skills to make him an exceptional architect, his better works came after all the experimentation and follies. Creativity is thus a proponent of freedom to make mistakes. Rome was after all, not built in a day!
The beach, with the golden sun, is the best part if the Bentota Beach Hotel.