“In recent journeys I have been struck how urban land-use concepts, such as the small individual built-up lot, are being transferred to the countryside. Compact villages are being replaced by peri-urban sprawl damaging both the existing social context, as well as agricultural output. Transformation in the rural habitat, where some 70% of the world’s Muslims live, is clearly another area of change where the Award will need to make serious progress…. Stimulating the development of a new architectural conscience is the ultimate hope of the Award.”
Shortlisted Project – 2014-2016 Award Cycle: Friendship Centre, Gaibandha, Bangladesh
The Friendship Centre in Gaibandha, Bangladesh, was built for the local NGO Friendship, which provides services for poor citizens of the region. Built by Dhaka-based architect Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury, it was designed to provide an inviting and accessible space for those who use the Centre’s services.
Situated on two acres, the complex is designed to blend with the natural environment while echoing the ruins of Mahasthan, a Buddhist dwelling from the third century BC, located nearby.
It is constructed and finished primarily of one material — local handmade bricks, and individual pavilions, courtyards, pools, and green spaces are woven throughout.
Offices, a library, meeting rooms, and prayer and tea rooms are included in pavilion-like buildings surrounded by courts and pools.
The Centre is also rented out for meetings, training, and conferences for income generation.
Structural elements are of reinforced concrete and finishes also include timber and stone.
The naturally ventilated structures have green roofs.
The Centre is located in an agricultural area susceptible to flooding and earthquakes, and whose low-bearing soil has a low bearing capacity. As a result, an embankment has been constructed with a water run-off pumping facility.
The Friendship Centre is divided into two sections,
- the outer Ka block for the offices, library and training classrooms
- and the inner Kha block for the residential section.
At a time, 80 people can be trained here in four separate classrooms.
Simplicity is the intent, monastic is the feel.
A rural training centre inspired by one of the country’s oldest urban archaeological sites.
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Researched & Compiled by Arif Ali