Bashirul Haq (1942-2020)

Principal Architect, Bashirul Haq & Associates

Bashirul Haq was one of the few Bangladeshi architects whose works considerably influenced the shaping of contemporary architecture in the country.

Bashirul Haq was one of the few Bangladeshi architects whose works considerably influenced the shaping of contemporary architecture in the country. In a career spanning over 45 years, Bashirul Haq designed over 250 buildings while also contributing as a planner and an educator. Suffering from various health issues, he passed away on 4th April, 2020.

Bashirul Haq completed his Bachelor of Architecture from the National College of Arts, in Lahore, Pakistan in 1964. Upon return to Dhaka after graduation, he worked in the office of Muzharul Islam. In 1975, he received a master’s degree in architecture from the University of New Mexico. During his time in the USA, Bashirul Haq met the famed structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. Khan advised Haq to join the Chicago-based firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), but Haq decided to return to Bangladesh.

In 1977, he established his own architectural practice, Bashirul Haq and Associates. During that period, he won the national design competition for the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) headquarters in Dhaka. However, it is the remarkable body of residential designs that made him stand out from his contemporaries. His design of homes and housings such as Dhanshiri Apartment Complex, Bhatshala House in his village in Brahmanbaria and Kalindi Apartment Complex are great examples of subdued and modest masonry volumes. The architect’s own residence and studio in particular express his sensitivity for the domestic realm. With the use of natural light, greenery and tactility of the building materials, he enhanced the experience of being at home.

In 1989, he returned to the United States after a long break as an invited design critic at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Following the devastating cyclone in Bangladesh in 1991, Bashirul Haq and Associates was commissioned by an NGO named PRISM to design three community development centres and cyclone shelters in the Cox’s Bazar district. The project was shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1994. Haq’s other two notable projects, his own residence and studio and the Bhatshala House were also shortlisted for the award in 1980 and 1992, respectively. In 2004, Haq was commissioned to design the new campus for the school of music and dance at Chhayanaut in Dhanmondi. He also designed other institutional buildings in Dhaka, like the campus for Sunbeams School in 2007 and East West University in 2012.

Bashirul Haq was a member of Master Faculty at Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements and remained involved in all its major events and activities. In 2015, he conducted a month-long session titled “Home and Dwelling,” at Bengal Institute, consisting of a design studio and lectures. In 2016, he participated in a panel discussion titled “Architecture that Validates” at Bengal Architecture Symposium NOW/NEXT, organised by Bengal Institute. His projects were exhibited as part of the travelling exhibition “Bengal Stream: The Vibrant Architecture Scene of Bangladesh” in Basel, Switzerland in 2017, and later on in Bordeaux, France in 2018 and in Frankfurt, Germany in 2019. He also presented at the Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel in 2017 as part of the travelling exhibition.

In 2018, Bashirul Haq was honoured with the Hamidur Rahman Memorial Award for his contribution to the field of architecture. A monograph of his works and philosophy titled Bashirul Haq: Architect, edited by Iftekhar Ahmed and Sheikh Rubaiya Sultana, was published in 2019 by Copal Publishing with the Department of Architecture of BRAC University. In 2020, he was awarded the IAB Gold Medal posthumously.

A Tribute to Bashirul Haq | Obituary