Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements: Prologue
The Chairman of Bengal Foundation, Abul Khair, believes in the future prospects of Bangladesh, and that the design of landscapes and cities will bring about an effective change in realizing those prospects. In alignment with the vision of Muzharul Islam, the pioneer modern architect of Bangladesh, Bengal Institute is a beginning effort towards the idea of designing and planning every inch of the country.
Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, Director General of the Institute, explains:
“Dhaka is the toughest city in the world. Bangladesh is symptomatic of the gravest environmental challenges.” It is in the neighbourhood of such pronouncements that we find necessary to rethink the scope of environmental design, and its pedagogy and practices.
“With its aquatic-geological formation – in flux – and projected consequences of environmental changes, the organization of land, water and settlements takes on an urgency that is unique to Bangladesh. Settlements patterns, architectural types, and socio-economic life-world, that are dynamically interconnected, confront new conditions raised by accelerated economic, environmental and social transformations.
“In such anxious times, the architectural agenda needs to go beyond problem-solving and form creation. At the Bengal Institute, we think that the architectural task should extend its sights to the intellectual, ethical and creative issues facing the futures of human habitats. In this regard, a new “architectural intelligence” is needed that is more about “place-form” rather than spectacular objects. The question of systemic and integrated “landscapes,” whether as habitats or place-forms, agricultural fabrics, or natural wetlands, should be at the core of this new approach. Developing this design intelligence requires a new kind of knowledge base, training and orientation that will uncover the original intimacy between architecture, habitation and landscape.
“Bengal Institute promises unique learning programs by bringing outstanding thinkers and practitioners to a common stage in Dhaka. Programs will offer opportunities to both fresh and established professionals, and young faculty, in developing their interests and imaginations, as well as their obligations to the new environmental task.”