for many people, bangladesh is synonymous with environmental disasters, major traffic congestion, and inhumane working conditions. however, thanks to a major new publication, that could all be about to change. titled ‘bengal stream’, the book presents — with the help of iwan baan’s expert photography — an extensive overview of the country’s diverse built environment. the title features more than 60 projects by established and aspiring architects, with a range of engaging essays joining baan’s specially commissioned imagery.

bengal stream book report
friendship centre by kashef chowdhury / URBANA
image © iwan baan (also main image)

 

 

uncharacteristically for a book on architecture, ‘bengal stream’ — published by christoph merian verlag — shows scenes of everyday life — from the densely populated and rapidly growing cities like dhaka, to the country’s more rural areas. by providing a sense of context, the publication not only sheds new light on lesser known architectural projects, but also on the people and communities who occupy them on a day-to-day basis. the book conveys bangladesh’s distinct culture and dynamic spirit, which overpowers the social and environmental issues that the country faces.

bengal stream book report
kalindi housing complex by bashirul haq & associates
image © iwan baan

 

 

working in bangladesh’s delicate ecosystem is no easy task — the country has the world’s largest river delta and flooding is a regular occurrence. in spite of these conditions, a generation of architects, committed to teaching and knowledge transfer, has designed floating schools and hospitals, cyclone-resistant emergency shelters, and flood-proof settlements. the structures are not only conceived by the architects, but also built by them.

bengal stream book report
gulshan society mosque by kashef chowdhury
image © iwan baan

 

 

with a focus on spatial design and well-thought-out construction details, the pragmatic yet poetic buildings balance vernacular traditions with contemporary requirements. importantly, the architects and their designs are conscious not to devastate the country’s resources or exploit its impoverished population. ‘bengal stream’ suggests that this system — with a focus on local materials and sustainability — could become a model for communities across the planet.

bengal stream book report
gulshan society mosque by kashef chowdhury
image © iwan baan

 

 

like the country’s numerous rivers, the vibrant architecture scene of bangladesh is in constant state of flux. accordingly, as well as providing a thorough and engaging documentation of bangladeshi architecture, the publication also takes readers on a voyage of discovery. each page of the book’s near-450 pages shine light on captivating projects that even the biggest architecture aficionados may not know. ‘bengal stream’ is published in concurrence with an exhibition of the same name currently on view at basel’s swiss architecture museum until may 6, 2018.

bengal stream book report
loom shed for amber denim by archeground ltd.
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
loom shed for amber denim by archeground ltd. /
md. jubair hasan, nabi newaz khan, lutfullahil majid, tahmida afroze
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
museum of independence and independence monument by urbana / marina tabassum, kashef chowdhury
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
bait ur rouf mosque by marina tabassum architects
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
bait ur rouf mosque by marina tabassum architects
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
bait ur rouf mosque by marina tabassum architects
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
mohila samity complex by ehsan khan architects
with nusrat jahan, shariful haque, eshita rahman, jubair hasan
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
diu library building by archeground ltd. / md. jubair hasan, nabi newaz khan, lutfullahil majid
image © iwan baan

bengal stream book report
dhaka is the capital and largest city of bangladesh
image © iwan baan

 

 

book info:

 

S AM schweizerisches architekturmuseum
niklaus graber, andreas ruby, viviane ehrensberger (eds.)
bengal stream
the vibrant architecture scene of bangladesh
448 pages, approx 400 mostly color illustrations hardcover, 24.5 x 33 cm
ISBN 978-3-85616-843-8. english
CHF 69.00 / EUR 68,00
december 2017. christoph merian verlag, basel

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