designed by german architect anna heringer, ‘anandaloy’ is a community center and workshop in bangladesh that is made from mud and bamboo. located in rudrapur, a village in the country’s dinajpur district, the two-storey building contains a therapy center for people with disabilities at ground level and a fair-trade textile manufacturing workshop for local women on the first floor. below a big ramp that connects the two levels, protective cave-like spaces provide settings for recreation or solitude.

anna heringer anandaloy
image © kurt hoerbst | video by the obel award

 

 

anna heringer’s ‘anandaloy’, which means ‘the place of deep joy’ in the local dialect of bangla/bengali, has now received the obel award 2020. the international prize for architectural achievement is presented annually by the henrik frode obel foundation, with the winner receiving €100,000 and an artwork by tomás saraceno. the 2019 award was given to ‘art biotop water garden’junya ishigami’s earthwork landscape that is nestled among the foothills of japan’s nasu mountains.

anna heringer anandaloy
image © kurt hoerbst

 

 

‘to all of us in the jury, anandaloy is an outstanding project,’ says martha schwartz, chair of the obel award jury. ‘anna manages to integrate all of her values: she is building sustainably, using the materials that are there, having people involved, so that they can learn to build for themselves, and creating more opportunities for women and for people with disabilities. you can feel that she has a real respect for the culture, for the people, for the land.’

anna heringer anandaloy
image © kurt hoerbst

 

 

‘anandaloy does not follow a simple rectangular layout,’ explains anna heringer. ‘rather, the building is dancing, and dancing with it is the ramp that follows it around. that ramp is essential, because it is the symbol of inclusion. it is the only ramp in the area, and as the most predominant thing about the building, it triggers a lot of questions. in that way, the architecture itself raises awareness of the importance of including everyone. diversity is something beautiful and something to celebrate.’

anna heringer anandaloy
image © kurt hoerbst

 

 

the building’s therapy center improves the lives of those with disabilities through dedicated training, massage techniques, and technical equipment. on the level above, dipdii textiles is a clothes-making project for local women that anna heringer and veronika lang launched with the NGO dipshikha to support local textile traditions and to improve work opportunities in the village.

 

interview with anna heringer | video by the obel award

 

 

‘we wanted to give the women a chance to earn their own living in the village,’ heringer continues. ‘we have to bring the work where the people are, where they can make use of their own resources, building their own houses with their hands, growing their own food, and taking care of their families. normally, as an architect, you build the vessel, and what goes on inside is not your business. but for us, it is very much our business. the project pushes the boundaries of my work. I see myself very much as an architect, but also as a social worker and as an activist.’

anna heringer's 'anandaloy' is a mud and bamboo community center in bangladesh
the site under construction | image © stefano mori

 

 

using a particular mud technique called ‘cob’, no formwork was needed. this meant that curves were just as easy to make as straight walls. working with mud also made it possible to include users and clients directly in the building process. consequently, the construction site was managed by the local contractor, montu ram shaw, and a team of mud and bamboo workers from the village that included people with disabilities.

anna heringer's 'anandaloy' is a mud and bamboo community center in bangladesh
the site under construction | image © stefano mori

 

 

‘with this building, everything comes together: local materials, local energy sources, and global creativity,’ says anna heringer. ‘first of all, it is important to me to show that you can create something out of existing materials. the material below our feet and the things that grow around us are enough to make something beautiful. secondly, anandaloy is completely run by solar energy, and human labor and craftsmanship were also very important sources of energy in the project.’ see other projects by the german architect on designboom here.

anna heringer's 'anandaloy' is a mud and bamboo community center in bangladesh
the site under construction | image © stefano mori

anna heringer's 'anandaloy' is a mud and bamboo community center in bangladesh
the site under construction | image © stefano mori

anna heringer's 'anandaloy' is a mud and bamboo community center in bangladesh
the site under construction | image © stefano mori

anna heringer's 'anandaloy' is a mud and bamboo community center in bangladesh
the site under construction | image © stefano mori

 

slideshow of images from the site | video by the obel award

 

 

 

project info:

 

name: anandaloy
timeline: 2017-2020
location: rudrapur village, dinajpur, bangladesh
typology: community center, workshop
size: 253 sqm / 2,723 sqf
creator / team: studio anna heringer
client: dipshikha bangladesh
awards: obel award 2021