| From the Author |
On a very sunny late morning, when we entered through the great entrance “Shanku Toron”, named after the young boy Shanku Samajhdar– the first martyr of 1971 from greater Rangpur, it seemed like a large garden house of some aristocrat – a clean soft path by large shading trees and small wooden shops and office rooms on the other side, where you would like to walk on your lazy holiday morning, watching shadows of leaves and sunlight playing on the ground, butterflies flying and birds chirping all around the green. Here and there in that very green garden like place, the workers were having their lunch. Nobody was dropping waste on the ground, no hustle bustle. Sitting beside some small water bodies and bushes, workers were having lunch peacefully, the air filled with the resonance of their chitter chatter.
I’m talking about a factory that makes rural artifacts like Shataranji, which is identical craftwork of Rangpur area, now hugely being produced by the Karupannya Ltd. inside this enormous green factory of around 3 lac square feet – which is indeed, ‘green’.
The large reservoirs caught my eyes as we were walking up the wide stairs – which have a great impact on the overall design. There are four reservoirs of a total fifteen thousand square feet radius in there – in the lobby at the ground floor of the factory, which can preserve around five lac liters of water at the same time. The first functional benefit of this we could anticipate is that the factory is very well prepared for any kind of fire hazard!
Primarily when you see the green stalks bending upon the water bodies, touching the water slightly, it will remind you the identical image of the ponds of the rural Bangladesh – which was actually the idea of Ar. Bayejid Mahbub Khondker. But when we come to know more about it, the project is far more interesting than only that!
The water condition of North Bengal is slightly iron rich. The fountains placed before the working zone, at first sight, seem to be designed for just beautification, are actually used to drop water from a height with a very force – that breaks the iron bond and makes the water suitable for dying works again. Basically this water comes from the dying section – the water which might go to waste, architect planned to reuse that in a cyclic order. The wastewater of approximately 60 deg Celsius then goes to the ETP and after getting refined for the second time – comes to the pond-like calm, cold reservoirs through the fountains. Due to which only 20% of the groundwater is used, which they had to raise up to 80% before!
The concept I was introduced firstly, now makes sense. The large factory indeed needs proper air circulation through the whole block, as there is no air cooler, or such artificial technology used to lower the temperature, that happens when the outside air comes in through the green layer and touching the water – and blows up through the louvres, just like we see in the courtyard houses. The workers never have to worry about the discomfort caused by the heat in the factory, even in the very mid-noon of April-May of summer. We went to the working section, the workers were knitting Shataranji, putting finishing touches on those and the temperature was there 6 deg lower than outside that they could work whole day long in there without any artificial air conditioning system!
There is also a stage before the main building – surrounded by greeneries and large trees as background, and the wide stairs are used as the gallery. The architect is the magician who could think of that combination of workplace and recreation space for the mass workers. On a sudden evening after work, one of them starts singing on the stage, one by one the others join him/her, and thus they make sudden cultural evenings which need no occasion actually – these very moments also help to build up amicable relationships between the managers and the workers.
The factory looks like a large green, impeccable mass from outside – there are greeneries on the roof hanging from high, which are placed at least 15 feet distant from the main structure, so there is hardly any possibility of any damage like dampness or structural harm to the main building. Each floor has four feet buffer for the door and windows to be placed, with a green screen outside.
Along with the architect, there is another person who helped to make the work so complete – artist Saidul Haque Juise. To accentuate the countryside images and to enhance the lifestyle of the rural craftsmen he added some details here and there in the factory like decorating the wall with Tepa putul, Kula, Pradeep, mud bowls, rural mud house like textured walls, and so on.
There is a bit of extended open place on the first floor – which could be left as some negative space, but they made it useful with some greeneries and benches and named it Nandini Park. There is a beautiful spiral staircase going down from the kitchen so that the workers can come with their launch box – through the green straight to the park. Nandini Park is decorated with broken large mud bowls where some Lily and Nymphoides, or floating-heart plants are placed, some broken bricks arranged aesthetically and thus created a little space to get a ‘power break’ for the workers to breathe!
In a small room with some seating arrangements, which is kept for some small talks with the guests, I noticed a large blue mask of a female face in the wall – which is inspired from the pattern of the Russian political satire rally held every year in Moscow – reflecting the culture of ours with the golden fibre in hand. The meeting room is on the top floor, the serious thing like business meeting happens here in a very homely environment with the essence of a yard in typical village houses of the country. If you ever engrossed yourself in gossiping in some “Uthan”, you can visualize it better. One side of the conference area is full of artifacts to show to the buyers, and on the opposite wall, there is a large mural with various postures of working hands.
Other than these, there are also some intricate stuff like how the architect designed it to maintain electrical safety at its best, assured the lowest usage of electricity for an industry or like maintaining BOD-COD, beauty salon, café and recreational spaces for the workers etc., which are actually intellectual ideas I must say, but I’m skipping those in this article. The thing I didn’t get the chance to see but heard from my father while he was making the human resource software for the company – that is all the water used in the factory is never let to be wasted, it is used in the fish farming pond basically to give a check that they are not doing any harm to the environment!
But the fact which brings the utmost success to the architect and his team is, it’s not just a factory or workplace to the workers, it’s rather been like a home to them. A home of their own with a touch of green and soil. A glimpse of future Bangladesh.
Where else is there more complacency for an architect?
Project title: Karupannya Rangpur Ltd.
Location: Alamnagar, Rangpur
Principal Architect: Ar Bayejid Mahbub Khondoker
Sculpture, Installation, Plantation, Landscape & Interior: Saidul Huq Juice
Structural Engineer: Sabbir Siddique, Md. Shakhawat Hossain
Electrical Engineer: Subodh Chandra Biswas
Plumbing Engineer: Prodip Kumar Haldar
Consultant: Nakshabid Architects
About the Author:
Noshin Tuba, Student of Architecture, Session 2017-’18, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet.
All photographs are sourced from the principal Architect as well as from the Author.