|Studio Master:||Dr Sajid Bin Doza, Dr Mohammad Habib Reza, Shams Mansoor Ghani and Naim Ahmed Kibria|
Handloom/ তাঁতশিল্প, the tradition of weaving clothes by hands, is one of the richest aspects of Bangladeshi culture and heritage. However, today, this prospective commerce is facing threats of extinction because of various problems and obstructions, thus compelling the weavers to leave their holistic profession, weaving. The weavers, who play an instrumental role in the development of this sector, are deprived of all kinds of basic needs and wages which questions their livelihood and force them to leave their profession. This beautiful process of turning individual fibers into fabrics is very intricate and deserves high recognition and value. However, the reality is far away from this. Glorious past, confusing present, and questionable future; is the ultimate harsh truth that handloom, the biggest handicraft industry of our country is facing now.
The main concept of this project emerged during interaction with the weavers. This project aims to deal with the actual scenario of the current situation, identify the limitations, and strengthen the possibilities to preserve the existence of our beautiful handloom fabrics through a collective attempt. This handloom center, informal and accommodating of the weavers’ language is an interactive platform for the welfare of the weavers’ community, and in greater aspect for the entire country.
To promote, enrich, nourish, and enlighten the audience about the textile heritage of our country and to educate the mass people of our country about the importance of local traditional handlooms and its beauty is highly essential for the handloom sector to sustain, which was the main idea of the project.
The initial work involved conducting case studies of the existing handloom settlements, identifying the location of different types of handlooms and their products, and associated crafts all over Bangladesh and finally, connecting the traces accordingly and including them in the site through successive selections. Based on study findings, a scheme was proposed to bring the entire handloom sector into one integrated whole through the collectivization of the weaver community progressively. In the initial phase, three handloom products (Tangail Saree, Shariatpur Gamcha, and Ruhitpuri Lungi) from three regions near Dhaka city were chosen.
Handloom production is a beautiful intricate process. Taking inspiration from the past and implementing it for the future, this project aims to benefit the weaver’s community by adding to its potential. Encouraging the weavers and artisans by providing them an exposure to the customers, that is, urban patrons, and provide them with a common ground for the easy communication of weavers and designers, students, enthusiasts, and buyers across the globe so that there is a direct connection and everything works as an integrated whole is the key idea of this project. It is like an institution within itself that benefits the entire complex as one unified whole.
In the current scenario, there is no direct connection between the customer and the weavers, which results in unbalanced wage-earning, increasing the failure of exposure and preservation, thus compelling the weavers to leave their professions and migrate to other means of livelihood.
For this reason, another step was to alleviate the discontinuity and establish a direct connection between the two such that there exists first-hand communication. This craft needs to be brought into light through proper supervision such that it survives and enlightens the entire nation. The current set-up depicts the influence of two upper hands and zero profit of the weavers during the entire process. Removal of this barrier and taking steps to develop the connection between weavers and customers for the enrichment of the products were a big concern.
Handloom weaving is a cottage-based industry and our country was once majorly engaged in weaving cotton and blended fabrics. The handloom is simply a weaving device made of wood and iron mainly operated by hand, relying solely on human metabolic energy. In most cases, Chittaranjan looms, a semiautomatic loom operated both by the weaver and machine, are used by the weavers. Jacquard weaving is done where designs are punched on cards and then installed. Threads are dyed and spun in the tool charka by women. Weavers create a harmony of motion and rhythm in the process of weaving the handloom. The harsh reality is, this scenario is almost on the verge of dying.
To promote the development and sustainability of the traditional textiles and its products by creating a handloom settlement for the weavers of our country with proper civic arrangements and functions is the main objective of this project. It is an attempt to preserve the rich heritage of the textiles of Bangladesh and save it from the clutch of extinction.
The site is located in the district of Madaripur and Shariatpur, with a highway passing through. The existing site is a part of the adjacent agricultural land which is a government property taken on lease by the local users. The site is around 100 acres and, a phased approach has been chosen so that there is a progressive growth of the entire settlement that allows for lessons learned in early phases to be incorporated in systems installed in the later phases. The first phase, which is the project, has a site area of 17.5 acres. The agricultural fields were integrated into the site and taking the existing landscape as a reference, pathways were generated which increased the accessibility inside the site.
Households of the weavers were studied extensively, and spaces were generated from their lifestyle. A conceptual section is generated during the homestead studies which depicts the existing lifestyle in the internal courtyards. Initially, functions are analyzed from the study areas and then the final design is derived from a basic grid. The housing units are derived from these existing types from which the basic lifestyle is chosen and then the design is done accordingly.
The fenestration on walls has inspiration from the traditional jacquard punch cards. Both the complex and housing units have similar jail patterns on bricks. Designs vary according to different combinations which creates a dramatic play of light inside and inspires people. The programs are arranged accordingly in the complex and the housing clusters are grouped according to the existing data available from the study areas.
House typologies are generated as per the existing ones. The lifestyle of the weavers is studied and implemented likewise. Three types of houses are generated with provisions for future expansions and required additions.
These houses were grouped in clusters according to different functional zones or, paras (পাড়া). They are Shuta rong er para: Yearn and dyeing zone, Gamcha para: Shariatpur’s famous Gamcha zone, Saree para: Tangail’s famous Saree zone, and Lungi para: Famous Ruhitpuri Lungi zone, according to the three products chosen from the initial findings.
This handloom center, informal and accommodating of the weavers’ language is organized around a central spine. The agricultural landscape blends with the proposed design in such a way that the aisle connects with the courtyards and proposed pathways in between. The entire complex is interlinked with a continuous corridor.
This project is dedicated to all the weavers associated with this craft for generations. The design is a spontaneous growth of the necessary elements of a handloom village, with additions that enrich its’ potential. It aims in revitalizing the overall growth through strategic solutions. To promote our traditional handloom products and enrich their values is the core idea of this project. It serves as a welfare opportunity for the weavers’ community, in a broader aspect, for the whole country.