|Name:||Sabbir H Sujan|
|Studio Master:||Akmal Hakim, Kashfia Khan|
“This architectural design studio project, Meditation Space Design Inspired by Lalon Shah’s Philosophy by Sabbir H Sujan, is a sensitive attempt to explore the meaning of Fakir Lalon Shah’s legendary works, ideals, and spiritual understanding and express them through context-sensitive architecture in Kustia, Bangladesh. The designer has imagined and presented wonderful spaces (See the wonderful 3D animation) that are modern as well as spiritual. The proposed structures are respectful to the local culture and natural surroundings.
The design of the low-rise complex (27 acres) skillfully represents three stages of human life (innocence > mind > realization) through the sequential organization of activity spaces (e.g. entry/concert stage > central stage on waterbody > the tomb) and with a compelling exposure to the river and the sky. From conceptualization to material selections, the design process reflects an awareness about the users (e.g. followers of Lalon Shah, local residents, tourists, nature lovers), cultural heritages (e.g. activities surrounding the river, ghat, gate, tomb), technical details (e.g. wood as a key construction material, innovative roofing technique) and micro-climate (e.g. seasonal variations, prevailing wind flow, sun positions). These are all essential components of the context-sensitive design.
While this is an excellent architectural design exercise that would inspire future meditation space design among architecture students in Bangladesh, I was wondering whether the design could negotiate more gently with the river, e.g. by reducing the amount of ‘retaining walls’ on flowing water. Also, enormous practicality and contextual constraints are involved in translating such design projects into rural context. For example, large paved and built areas might be considered too costly for the local stakeholders to build and maintain. The designer considered some practicalities and explored why, how, and whether local authorities and users would like to build this proposal.
Overall, I believe the readers would be impressed by this culturally sensitive, spiritually inspired, and locally buildable design.” – Editor
| From the student |
From ancient times, we cultivate and search for our spiritual energy. Every living being has a spirit bonded with its physical existence. Fakir Lalon Shah is a well-known spiritual practitioner who lived and practiced his spiritual journey in Kushtia, Bangladesh. He wrote poems about the spirit, life and social discrimination. He meditated to reveal the connectivity within the human body, soul and cosmic energy. He narrated his findings as lyrics and sang them for people. One of his lyrics talks about the importance of knowing oneself in order to know the unknown:
“ একবার আপনারে চিনতে পারলে রে.যাবে অচেনারে চেনা”
“Once you know yourself, you would be able to unveil the unknown.”
(English translation: Author)
This thesis is an attempt to study and find out the inner meaning of Fakir Lalon Shah’s lyrics through design. The meditation spaces are designed as an integrated place that creates the impression of Fakir Lalon Shah’s lyrics.
The site is located at Cheouria village of Kumarkhali Upazila, Kushtia district and locally known as “Lalon Shah Akhra”. The site is sacred and spiritually connected with the local people and their life. The people of this region are considered as one of the most peace-loving people in Bangladesh. They love to live by respecting Lalon Shah’s philosophy.
The site is highly blessed with natural elements and beautiful surroundings. The design preserves the local environmental elements that inspire deep meditation while developing the meditational environment for modern time. Built forms follow vernacular architecture style on Bangladesh and use materials like mud, bamboos, wood and concrete. The design distributes the position of spaces to achieve proper architectural aesthetics.
Meditation is a balanced connection between time, realization and destination. It is an organized way to understand how we spend our past, what we are now, where we will be. Time and generations are flowing – this is the truth of any entity. Fakir Lalon Shah described and sang for the people and tried to make them understand the true form of religion. His lyrics talk about discrimination and peace. This design is a combined expression of his lyrics into architecture.
“তিন গর্ভে আছেরে এক ছেলে,
ও সে সবাইকে কয় মনের কথা,
আমায় কয়না প্রান গেলে”
“There are three wombs that contain the whole of the seed,
It tells everyone the secret,
But never ever let me understand”
“তিন পাগলে হলো মেলা নদে এসে
তোরা কেউ যাসনে ও পাগলের কাছে”
“Three essences meet in the vessel
Don’t let yourself go near them”
(English translation: Author)
These thoughts expose three points or phases of life. This project takes the three phases of life as the concept and expressed them through design. This project also attempts to recreate the quality of the environment wherein Lalon Shah’s and his followers used to spread his philosophy to the rural people to help them lead a peaceful life. All these thoughts are designed and idealized considering the present world era.
The project is also an attempt to preserve the history of Lalon Shah’s Akhra Bari, the meditational system, building styles and local rural livelihood. The Akhra Bari was originally the property of Malam Shah. He gave this land to Fakir Lalon Shah to practice his spiritual learning. This place was very quiet and calm with the blessing of nature with some families living here and there.
People of Karigar para, Kushtia are experts in building contextual houses as they are engaged in these jobs for many decades and traditionally aware of creating sustainable buildings. This project may have their concern so that it can be built with the traditional blessings and those people will have financial benefits.
This project has the potential to expose our spiritual resources as well as the richness of our spiritual practitioners to international communities. It makes an offer to the dedicated Lalon philosophers to live and help meditation students to enrich their understandings here. This is also a space to empower the local builders and craftsmen. With finance from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs- Bangladesh, the project construction can be supervised by the Public Works Department (PWD) with the active participation of the local government and the community.
CONTEXT Contributing Editor: Md Rashed Bhuyan, PhD | Research Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design.