33rd Lane Colombo, 1960-1970

The house in 33rd Lane is an essay in architectural bricollage. In 1958 Bawa bought the third in a row of four small houses which lay along a short cul-de-sac at the end of a narrow suburban lane and converted it into a pied-à-terre with living room, bedroom, tiny kitchen and room for a servant. When the fourth bungalow became vacant this was colonised to serve as dining room and second living room. Ten years later the remaining bungalows were acquired and added into the composition and the first in the row was demolished to be replaced by a four-storey tower.

The final result is an introspective labyrinth of rooms and garden courts which together create the illusion of limitless space. Words like inside and outside lose all meaning: here are rooms without roofs and roofs without walls, all connected by a complex matrix of axes and internal vistas.

If the main part of the house is an evocation of a lost world of verandahs and courtyards assembled from a rich collection of traditional devices and plundered artefacts, the new tower which rises above the car port is nothing less than a reworking of Corb’s Maison Citrohan and serves as a periscope which rises from a shady nether world to give views out across the treetops towards the sea.