Bastille was the name we gave a certain formidable structure that came up in the neighbourhood in the early Sixties. Looking like the gateway to a fortress or a castle, it brooded over a corner section of Alfred House Road. We liked the nod to medieval Europe, but were not sure if we liked the structure. The “Bastille”, it turned out, was the entrance to the Colombo office of Mr. Geoffrey Bawa, the much talked about architect, who was then in his early forties and gaining stature with each highly original home or building he designed.
When we saw Mr. Bawa for the first time— a dauntingly larger-than-life figure who appeared giant-like to 12-year-olds, the “Bastille” made sense; it was the awe-inspiring frontage of a setting in which an awe-inspiring mind was conceptualising awe-inspiring architectural structures such as grand houses, hotels, schools, factories, campuses, Parliament complexes.
Geoffrey Bawa seemed to be known to everyone we knew. He was a year junior to Father at Royal College, Colombo, and his family had close ties with great-aunts and great-uncles over on this side.