A Guide to the Landscape Design of Lunuganga

Built by the architect Geoffrey Bawa over the course of several decades, Lunuganga is a garden on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka. Expanding outward from its original plantation house, the 37-acre garden has been transformed over the years through the manipulation of trees, the construction of little pavilions, and extensive earthworks.

This guide identifies eight techniques that Bawa used to construct his garden, which range from labour-intensive terracing to the simple arrangement of objects that brought the distant landscape into focus. It seeks to reveal the deliberation and effort involved in the construction of a landscape that otherwise seems to have emerged from the earth, a space of such verdancy that “if you put a stick in the ground, it sprouts leaves and roots the next day.”

Hortus Conclusus

This project interprets Geoffrey Bawa’s residence in Colombo as a series of rooms paired with enclosed courtyards. The house in 33rd Lane was built by gradually combining four adjacent bungalows, resulting in a labyrinth of domestic spaces. Within the house, each hortus conclusus presents a different method of bringing landscape into the dwelling: the roots of a tree that line a corridor, a pool of water that sits under a skylight, the leafy patios accessible from each bedroom. Despite its urban environs, Bawa’s abode fragments the conventional relationship between interior and exterior, creating instead a contained arrangement of landscape and architecture that can be read either as a single, winding narrative or a series of intimate pairs.