Private Project

The Genius of the Place: The Life and Work of Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka's Premier Architect

OFFICIAL SELECTION: Architecture and Design Film Festival NYC TORONTO VANCOUVER CHICAGO A groundbreaking documentary exploring the work of Sri Lanka's Geoffrey Bawa, the greatest architect you've never heard of …how he decolonized 20th century architecture and inspired Asia to live more naturally, sustainably and beautifully. Shot in high definition 4K with stunning footage of Sri Lanka from aerial drone cinematography.

As featured in Wallpaper* Magazine, a leading design publication.

  • Afdhel Aziz
  • Afdhel Aziz
  • Afdhel Aziz
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 14 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 15, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    175,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Sri Lanka
  • Country of Filming:
    Sri Lanka
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Red 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Architecture and Design Film Festival New York
    New York
    United States
    October 14, 2023
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Architecture and Design Film Festival Toronto
    November 1, 2023
    Canadian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Architecture and Design Film Festival Vancouver
    November 9, 2023
    Official Selection
  • Architecture and Design Film Festival Chicago
    United States
    August 23, 2023
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Principal Media
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Afdhel Aziz

Afdhel Aziz is a Sri Lankan-born best-selling author and speaker, and the co-founder of global purpose consultancy Conspiracy of Love, a B Corp, and Good is the New Cool, a creative studio that makes stories that fill the Hope Gap.

Born in Sri Lanka, Afdhel set out to London at age 17 to begin a career in business. That was the start of the journey that’s since seen him move to New York and now Los Angeles.

Along the way he’s helped scores of brands, companies and leaders to discover their Purpose, become a thought leader about harnessing business as a force for good, and has written several non-fiction books, as well a recurring column for Forbes.

In 2022, Afdhel returned to his roots and produced and directed The Genius of the Place, a groundbreaking documentary about Geoffrey Bawa: Sri Lanka’s most iconic architect.

He's also the author of 'Strange Fruit', a novel about growing up in the Civil War in Sri Lanka, and 'China Bay Blues', a book of poetry.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I grew up in Sri Lanka surrounded by Geoffrey Bawa’s work.

I went to school at St Thomas Prep in a building he designed.
I grew up in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, riding my bike next to his Sri Lankan Parliament building.

I went on holiday throughout my childhood, staying with my family at the beautiful hotels he created all around Sri Lanka.

But I realized that I didn’t know anything about the man himself.

Who was he, what influenced him, how was he uniquely Sri Lankan?

So this documentary started as a personal journey for myself to learn more about the man: by exploring five of his buildings, and speaking to his collaborators, clients and contemporaries, I hoped to learn more about who he was and how he came to create such amazing experiences.

I believe Bawa is one of the most important architects of the 20th century and his work deserves to be celebrated internationally on a par with other architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Oscar Niemayer and Luis Barragan.

By showing the world the magic of his buildings, I hope to elevate his stature to the level of awareness he deserves globally.

How we shot the film comes from Bawa himself who said ‘Architecture cannot be explained but must be experienced’. Our goal when making this film was to teleport the viewer into these beautiful buildings and gardens, so they can experience what it feels like to be there.

We also made use of drones to shoot spectacular never-been-seen-before, birds-eye views of his creations; showing how their context and landscapes influenced his designs, one flowing seamlessly into the other, to really explore the idea of ‘the inside is the outside…and how each building connects to ‘the genius of the place’, the unique spirit and energy of each location.

The film is a love letter to Bawa – but also a love letter to Sri Lanka. As a primarily Sri Lankan crew of filmmakers (see below for the full list), we wanted to create something that shows people the magic and wonder of our beautiful island in a way that makes them want to get on a plane and come visit the country and see the buildings for themselves.

We hope you like it and help support the film!

Afdhel Aziz