Architecture in Bangladesh: Streams and Waves
A Conversation Between Kazi Khaleed Ashraf and Niklaus Graber
On 15th February, 2018, Niklaus Graber and the Director-General of Bengal Institute, Prof Kazi Khaleed Ashraf will sat down to talk about the architecture of Bangladesh, its past, present and future. Bangladesh is in a brilliant position now architecturally despite the oft repeated stories of urban, environmental and social crises. It is, what the organizers of the exhibition “Bengal Stream” describe as, a “vibrant architectural scene.” Brilliantly begun with Muzharul Islam, and carried through works by some of the most important architects of the twentieth century, like Louis Kahn, Stanley Tigerman and Paul Rudolph, newer generations continue the journey for an invigorating architecture now recognized through important international awards and major publications.
In the exhibition “Bengal Stream,” curated by Niklaus Graber and Andreas Ruby, the Swiss Architecture Museum took the initiative to highlight a body of works that represents a distinct energy rooted in the spirit and temperament of the region. Over 60 projects by important architects of Bangladesh are included in the show that after the opening in December 2017 in Basel, Switzerland, will travel to other important venues in Europe. Preparing for the exhibition involved year long research with Iwan Baan commissioned for photographs. Bengal Institute partnered with the Museum in organizing the exhibition.
March Session continued into the month of April with Kazi Khaleed Ashraf conducting seminars on the Histories and Theories of architecture. The session concluded with David Leatherbarrow and his forum at Bidyapeeth, a public lecture at Chhayanaut and a lecture at Bengal Centre.
Watch the videos of the forum at the Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Bidyapeeth here.
The weeklong Master Class was packed with intense activities, hands-on design exercises, discussions and workshops in the midst of the lush green landscape of rural Jessore. The program focused on building a better understanding of the sites and surroundings and learning from nature, while bringing in discussions and knowledge from the vast experience of Leplastrier and Stutchbury. It was quite the meeting of locally grounded and globally inspired ideas and expertise.
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Two Australian stalwart architects and educators Richard Leplastrier and Peter Stutchbury gave a lecture each on the 18th of April, 2018, Wednesday at the ULAB Auditorium, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.
Leplastrier and Stutchbury both are well known for their ‘culture, site and climate’ sensitive works in Australia and abroad. Along with their practices, they have been teaching with Glenn Murcutt for decades.
This workshop explored the intersections between hands-on making and scientific knowledge. While these two practices appear separate, the experimentation with everyday materials and technologies ensued in the workshop, to investigate the rhythms of the monsoons and the dynamism of soil and water. Particularly, the changes of states of matter and how they correspond with spatial, political, and social changes were highlighted. Through lectures, discussions, and experiments, both individually and collectively, the critical and imaginative faculties were meant to be sharpened when it comes to the dynamism of the monsoons. Participants made some instruments to measure this dynamism using everyday objects around them.
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One of the most interesting developments in contemporary architecture is the rejection of object-oriented designs in favor of approaches that see the building as enmeshed in a wider milieu. The works of Jean Nouvel, Peter Zumthor, Kengo Kuma and Adam Caruso can be seen to occupy common ground with their arguments for an architecture of “atmospheres.”
The talk described this common ground and showed its role in contemporary practice. Using Goethe’s poetry, the paintings of Constable and Turner, and Ruskin on the Truth of Clouds, David Leatherbarrow also explained the historical formation of this idea, in architecture and other arts, and the sciences. Professor Leatherbarrow stressed on the mutuality of internal and external conditions in the constitution of a setting’s communicative sense, and hoped to show that architecture integrates natural and cultural conditions in ways that make spatial settings both intelligible and enjoyable.
Crafting as a way of understanding matters, participants were encouraged to elucidate the term material/materiality through object making/analyzing. The principal values of materials and their meaningful translations, bring fourth profound understanding of their positions among other matters. How human intervention plays a sublime role in this making, can open doors to see and understand the age-old matters in new ways and perhaps will redefine the strength of Natural mind in the vastness of modernity.
This unique session engaged the participants in hands-on crafts making with the faculties and master-craftsmen for three weeks, and also included visits to exemplary sites of various local craft making.
Renowned sailor, pilot, boat-maker and entrepreneur Yves Marre talks about the past, present and future of boats, and the vehicles that navigates the tides and streams across the world.
Watch the live-streaming archive here.
Bengal Institute, with Aga Khan Trust for Culture, conducted a month long special seminar program on architecture that shapes our thinking and practice.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture remains one of the most influential institutions shaping the discourse of architecture today. Through the awards program, as well as conferences and publications, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture set the tone of how architecture should take shape in the culture and life-world of a region. Being some of the most impactful works in the last several decades, Aga Khan Award winning projects have provided guiding principles to many architects and students.
Sponsored by the Education Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), Bengal Institute organised the first month-long academic session that will offer a unique opportunity of learning about the program. Using the rich archive and resources of the Award program, and bringing together award winning architects, and prominent scholars as faculties, and members of the communities benefited by the Award, the Session offered a unique learning experience.
Find out more at: bit.ly/BISept2018
Eike Roswag-Klinge is known for the ideas of infusing nature into built environment. He works with his firm (ZRS, Berlin) globally on natural buildings and their cultural, climatic and traditional values. His aim is to work on buildings made of earth, bamboo and timber, reflecting the options and potentials of the post-fossil society – the society of change.
He is a Professor at Technische Universität Berlin, at the Natural Building Lab. He won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007 with Anna Heringer.
Watch the video: bit.ly/BIPL32
Professor Hassan Radoine from Morocco spoke about the transformations of middle eastern architecture. Architecture in the Middle East continues to transform and evolve. From the abstract beauty of traditional architecture to spectacular modern regenerations, and from lyrical old cities to metropolis of global outlook, the range of contemporary practices is wide and diverse. Prof Hassan Radoine took us on a tour of this landscape.
Watch the video: bit.ly/BIPL33
Space is Society was a two week long academic session on how we think about space and its relationships with society. Speakers from different disciplines, from science and social justice, to architecture, art, and cinema, spoke about their work, ideas and viewpoints on space.
Space is fundamentally multifaceted and multidimensional. The space around us have more dimensions beyond the physical objects that define our visual fields. Societies, cities, neighborhoods, culture, gender, universal accessibility, and several other tacit elements shape our spatial reality. Whether we practice as architects and planners, or engage in issues of social justice and legal rights, we need to create a discourse around the changes, tensions and negotiations in the facets of space so that we may prepare a holistic understanding for the future.
A two-week long training workshop from 18th — 29th November, 2018, on the fundamentals of GIS (Geographic Information System) and RS (Remote Sensing)
This session was designed for the professionals who have been practicing in the fields of architecture, planning and other relevant disciplines. Application is open for anyone with a minimum bachelor’s degree.
Participants created, designed, organised and managed geospatial databases, produced well-designed maps and undertook spatial data analysis using some specific geospatial software, tools and techniques. This training was geared towards those seeking to gain an overview of understanding of GIS, RS, current trends and some basic hands-on experiences. These hands-on experiments will enhance their knowledge and skills on handling geospatial basics and tools. They learned how to relate and analyse space in a scientific way.
The book launch for the “Bengal Stream: The Vibrant Architecture of Bangladesh” was held at the ballroom of the Westin on the 2nd of March. The event boasted attendance from many honoured guests, among them the Honourable Finance Minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith; International Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister, Gowher Rizvi; the Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh, René Holenstein; the Chairman of the Executive Board of Bengal Institute, Abul Khair Litu; the Editor of The Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam; the Director General of Bengal Institute, Kazi Khaleed Ashraf and the curator of the exhibition from which the book is stemmed, Swiss architect Niklaus Graber spoke.
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The exhibition “Bengal Stream – The Vibrant Architecture Scene of Bangladesh” organised by and started off at the Swiss Architecture Museum in association with Bengal Institute has started its journey across Europe. Now it is open in Bordeaux, France.
The show just opened at “Arc en Rêve, Centre d’architecture” in Bordeaux and it was enthusiastically received by its first visitors and the press. The marvelous projects, drawings and sketches are about to tropicalise wintery France.
More updates from Bordeaux are coming soon!
[Short link to this page for easy sharing: http://bit.ly/BSBordeaux]
The Bengal Stream Exhibition – The Vibrant Architecture Scene of Bangladesh organised by Swiss Architecture Museum in association with Bengal Institute was featured on the September 2018 Issue of JSAH (Vol. 77).
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Two of the members of Bengal Institute’s Executive Board, architects Jalal Ahmad and Ehsan Khan won separate awards at the ARCASIA 2018 in Tokyo.
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Saif Ul Haque, AKM Tanvir Hasan, Manifa Rehnuma and Nahid Akram from Bangladesh are among the winners of JK AYA; Balkrishna Doshi presided the ceremony, Kazi Khaleed Ashraf moderated a Symposium around the event.
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Mehdi Moutashar and Marina Tabassum announced as first ever joint winners of Jameel Prize 5 from the Victoria & Albert Museum
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Marina Tabassum and her team, curated various elements of the vernacular life of the delta to recreate and expose their traditional wisdom through the installations.
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The past year flew by with great events involving great people making the year a quite the success. We look forward to 2019 with great optimism and hope to accomplish our goals even further, hope you will be with us.