Farhat Afzal | CONTEXT

With an influx of exhibitions, design competitions with promising entries that ensure improvement of Dhaka’s urban fabric and noteworthy achievements by the architecture community as a whole, 2017 has undoubtedly been an eventful year. Here is a look at some of those momentous occasions.

Bengal Stream: Exhibition and publication on contemporary architecture scene of Bangladesh at Swiss Architecture Museum


Bengal Stream‘ an exhibition on Bangladesh’s architecture at  Swiss Architecture Museum is, perhaps, what  the year 2017 will be remembered for. With an aim to disseminate the exemplary work of  Bangladeshi architects in the world, the exhibition brings together more than 60 projects by over 40 established and emerging architects.  In addition to contemporary architecture, the exhibition is also displaying original drawings by Muzharul Islam for the first time at a venue outside of Bangladesh. Inaugurated on 1st of December,2017 the exhibition will continue till 6th of May, 2018 in Basel, Switzerland. The exhibition is  planned to travel  multiple stops before arriving back at its final destination in Dhaka in a couple of years. In addition to the exhibition, a publication of the same name by Christoph Merian Verlag was released. It includes essays by local experts Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, Saif Ul Haque and Syed Manzoorul Islam.

IAB won over China to bring ARCASIA home in 2019

source : ARCASIA
source : ARCASIA

The year also observed a landmark achievement by IAB ( Institute of Architects Bangladesh) to win over its other contender, China to bring ARCASIA home in 2019. At the 38th ARCASIA Council Meeting held on 4th November, 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal, Bangladesh was nominated to host Forum 20 and 40th Council Meeting in 2019.

Architect Rafiq Azam Won ARCASIA and  Cityscape Global Awards, 2017


In 2017, the project ‘S A Family Graveyard’ by  Md. Rafiq Azam ( SHATOTTO) won the Arcasia Awards for Architecture. The award is considered as the highest honor for an practicing architect in Asia.

Cityscape Global Awards was another noteworthy achievement by architect Azam this year. The award was given in recognition of excellence in architecture and real estate development. Azam’s residential project, titled Huda’s Skyline was named as the winner in ‘Residential – Medium to High Rise Project Award – Built’ category.


Bangladeshi architects  won JK CEMENT AWARD in FOCUS COUNTRY category

After winning prestigious Asia Architecture Award &  Berger Award for Excellence in Architecture in 2015, once again Archeground hit the headlines of international news media this year. Md. Jubair Hasan form Archeground was awarded as the JK Architect of the Year (Foreign Country) for the project Loom Shed for Amber Denim. Lutfullahil Majid was chosen for the Foreign Countries’ Young Architect of the Year Award for his mosque at Amber Denim Mills Ltd.

Ishtiaque Zahir Titas chosen as Elected Council member by Union of International Architects (UIA)

For the first time, an IAB member held the office bearer position in  Union of International Architects (UIA). UIA announced Ishtiaque Zahir Titas from the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) as Elected Council member for Region IV and Ehsan Khan as alternate member.

Marina Tabassum  judged the AR Emerging Architecture Awards 2017

Aga Khan Award winner and founder of MTA, Marina Tabassum judged the Architecture Review Emerging Architecture Awards (AREA) at the World Architecture Festival. The festival  took place at Berlin in November, 2017. The Awards grant early recognition to young designers and promote global design innovation and fresh approaches to architecture by emerging architects. Marina Tabassum was joined by other panel members Prof. Martyn Hook and Matthias Sauerbruch.

Alongside these international achievements, the year is also noted for events  and  competitions of national significance.  Throughout the year, architect community was actively engaged to participate in a number of open design competitions organized in cooperation with IAB.

Open Architectural Design Competition for Historic Preservation and Landscape Design of the Old Dhaka Central Jail and Redevelopment of its Surrounding Area

© FORM 3 Architects
© FORM 3 Architects

Open competition for the redevelopment of Dhaka Central Jail was a much talk about competition of the year. The Prisons Directorate, Security Services Division and Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Bangladesh announced the competition. The competition invited participants to provide master plan of the area, and complete urban, architectural, landscape and engineering design. FORM.3 Architects and team won first place in the competition.


Open Architectural Design Competition for the Coordinated Complex of Department of Public Libraries (DPL) and Bangladesh National Museum

Library building facing the central plaza © DCON CUBE JV

Another competition that caught the attention of architect community is  the design competition for Coordinated Complex of Department of Public Libraries and Bangladesh National Museum. The competition was hosted by Department of Public Library and Bangladesh National Museum. The winning design proposal was a joint venture of Cubeinside Design Ltd. and Dcon Design Studio.


UTC (Urban Thinkers Campus) Dhaka 2017

As a part of  global campaign by UN-Habitat, a 3 day event entitled UTC Dhaka 2017  kicked off on November this year. The event was Jointly organized by International Union of Architects (UIA) and Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) and hosted by IAB. The event included round table discussions, base plan workshop and on site urban lab. Speakers at the round table discussions spoke on themes such as good governance and capacity building, climate, resilience and infrastructure, compact development, urban-rural linkage, place making and sense of identity. A workshop to develop town planning was moderated by an international expert and engaged multi-stakeholders’ participation. Conceived in 2014, Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) is a model platform aims to promote sustainable urbanization through participation of stakeholders and partners and propose urban solutions in addressing urbanization challenges to urban futures.

Further to that, in 2017, on several occasions architecture student projects  stood out in the international competitions.

Bangladeshi student’s thesis project won Tamayouz International Award 2017

Contemplation Shelter © Nishat Tasnim Oyshee | UAP
© Nishat Tasnim Oyshee | UAP

Nishat Tasnim Oyshee from University of Asia Pacific was announced as the winner for Tamayouz Excellence Award 2017. Her graduation thesis project Integrated Development Proposal on an Unclaimed Genocidal Site won her the first prize, beating entries by 468 graduates from 118 universities and 42 countries. The award includes an MSc Scholarship for two years at the University Polytechnic of Milan, sponsored by the Iraqi Business Council in Jordan.


Honourable mention at the Symposium DRIA 2017 awarded to students of BUET

Each neighborhood chunk opens to a social shade, a larger interactive space which will act as a platform for the neighborhood
Soakable Society © Dept. of Architecture | BUET

At the 2017 Designing Resilience in Asia (DRIA) International Competition, held at National University Singapore, students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology were awarded with an Honourable Mention. The competition asked for proposals for designing resilience for a vulnerable site of Indonesia. The design proposal from BUET was based on a concept of “Soakable Society”, where opportunities were created for urban resiliency, socio-economic resiliency, energy generation etc. which would lead to making the society self-sufficient . The team included the following students from batch 2012 – Pankaj Nath Joy, Tanzim Rochana, Shehran Parvez Seyan, Sangeeta Bhattacharjee, Sarah Shehnaz Bipasha and Mahua Chakma.


Student projects from AIUB and BUET got citation award in ACA’S 5th International Design Competition

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© Shafaiet Mahmud | AIUB

Thesis projects by students from American International University – Bangladesh (AIUB) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) received citations in the Student Category at Aditya School of Architecture’s (ACA) 5th International Design Competition, in Mumbai, India. S.M. Shafaiet Mahmud from AIUB and Tasneem Wahed and Atiya Nusrat from BUET were the students behind the commendable projects that were honoured with the citation.