Let’s go on a journey to the far-far East, over the Ural and even the Himalayas, all the way to Bangladesh. What you find here is sustainability at its best – and some poetry, too.
Rafiq Azam founded his practice, Shatotto Architects in Dhaka in 1995, and since then he became one of the most well known and recognized architects in Bangladesh. He developed his own style through designing single family houses and apartment buildings, libraries and hospitals, etc. He draws inspiration from nature just as well as traditional Bangladeshi architecture. And on top of all that, he cites from poets and philosophers to explain his ideas.
“As Lalon (a spiritual folk singer, Sufi and philosopher) says if there is not one thing inside the body then it is not outside the body either. Body is the key word. Just like human body, there is a body of architecture. This body of architecture has two parts; shell and thinking as soul. Shell and soul are interdependent yet independent. They belong to each other and they belong to themselves. A good soul needs a good shell.”
This shell here is a simple concrete cube that separates the outside world from the intimate inside, the existing urban tissue from a completely new way of spatial distribution. Although the shell is well defined, the separation of outside and inside is not that easy. The center of the house is a lake, and the boat on it makes you feel like you could just row away if you wanted.
The rooftop terrace looks as if it has already been invaded by nature: the vegetation here is nothing like the green roofs you see elsewhere, it is an impenetrable field of abundant greenery.
And why did I mention sustainability? Because the water and the greens are not just pure design elements here, they carry an important role in the heat management of the house, both in the summer and the winter. “The south and the southeast have been designed to bring in cool breeze during the hot humid summer and the warmth of the sun during winter. The center “water court” acts as a natural exhaust, which flows out the hot air and makes the middle court a solace.” – explain the architects.
If you want to see more of Shatotto’s projects and explore Bangladesh through architecture, you can check out their projects page here.
All photos © Daniele Domenicali