The new Sri Lankan Parliament is an asymmetric group of colonnaded pavilions with striking copper roofs ‘floating’ on a man-made lake. The site was originally a marsh and was dredged to form a small island to support the structures and a wide shore with dense tree cover. The approach is along a causeway and across a forecourt. Again, Bawa has used a modernist framework to support indigenous components of past architecture and produced a building of great beauty and harmony.
The chamber, the focus of power, lies within the main pavilion with balconies and galleries rising three storeys. The tiered terraces below hold administrative and committee offices. Other pavilions accommodate rooms of varying functions. Traditional wood and stone columns, reminiscent of ancient palaces and temples, support the stately copper roofs.
The project was commissioned by President J.R. Jayawardene in 1979 and was in recognition of Bawa’s increasing prestige. The completed design brought him even more international kudos. The Parliamentary complex is Bawa’s most symbolic work, conceptualized as movements through spaces, resulting in the asymmetrical configuration. It is also perhaps the only project where he has allowed form to override the priority of landscape.
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