earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
feb 24, 2010

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh

hand-built in four months by architects, local craftsmen, pupils, parents and teachers, this primary school in rudrapur, a village in north west bangladesh, uses traditional methods and materials of construction but adapts them in new ways. the architects, anna aeringer from austria and eike roswag from germany, made every effort to engage the skills of local craftsmen, helping them refine processes and learn new techniques that they could then use to improve the general standard of rural housing.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
sunlight and ventilation can be regulated through the use of shutters.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
in rudrapur, the traditional local materials are bamboo for constructions and earth for walls and foundations, straw for the roofs and jute rope for lashing constructions.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
earthbound materials such as loam and straw are combined with lighter elements like bamboo sticks and nylon lashing to create a environmentally sustainable foundation.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
thick walls assure a comfortable climate on the ground floor of the building.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
1st floor: open space

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
a view into the classroom



the philosophy of METI (modern education and training institute) is learning with joy. the teachers help the children to develop their own potential and use it in a creative and responsible way. the building reflects these ideas through its materials, techniques and architectural design.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
a view into the classroom

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
a view into the classroom

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
molded ‘cavespaces’ – an area to retreat into for contemplation/concentrated work

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh



the design solution used in this rural town may not be replicable in other parts of the islamic world as local conditions vary. however, new design solutions can emerge from an in-depth knowledge of the local context and new ways of building. this provides a fresh and hopeful model for sustainable building globally. the final result of this heroic volunteer effort is a building that creates beautiful, meaningful and humane collective spaces for learning which enrich the lives of the children it serves.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh



the construction method used is a historical earth building technique similar to cob-walling which is ideal for ‘self building’. the wet earth is mixed with straw and applied to the wall in layers. each layer is approximately 50-70 cm high, and after a couple of days drying, it is trimmed on the sides with a sharp spade to obtain a regular flat wall surface. after a second drying period, a further layer can be added. the earth in this region is well-suited for such construction and the stability of the mixture was improved by adding rice, straw and jute.


earth construction: the most important technical improvement in comparison to traditional buildings is the introduction of a damp proof course and a brick foundation. the traditional building technique (which uses very wet earth) has been replaced by the ‘weller’ technique that is quite similar to the traditional one.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
‘if you give someone a fish you can feed him for a day.
if you show him how to fish he can feed himself for his whole life.’ – lao zhu

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
the school building was built by experts and volunteers from germany and austria along with craftsmen, teachers, parents and students from bangladesh over the period of september to december 2005.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
the aim of the project is to improve existing building techniques, to contribute to sustainability by utilising local materials and labour and to strengthen regional identity.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
the joints are secured with a steel pin fixed with a nylon lashing

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
the ceiling consists of three layers of bamboo poles arranged perpendicularly to one another with bamboo boarding and an earth filling as the surface of the floor. the same construction in a modified form can be used for general residential buildings.

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh

earth architecture: handmade school in bangladesh
the second step was planning and construction of private housing



society in bangladesh is changing. although it is still strongly rooted in agriculture, people are getting more educated – privacy and individuality are gaining more importance. a house is no long just a shelter to store things or to sleep in at night. it has evolved to becoming more defined as a home.



project info:


name: METI school in rudrapur dinajpur, bangladesh
built area: 325 m2
cost: $ 22,835
commission: january 2004
design: march 2004 – august 2005
construction: september 2005 – cecember 2005
occupancy: december 2005


client: dipshikha/ METI non-formal education, training and research society for village development
design and concept: anna heringer
technical, detailed planning and realisation: anna heringer and eike roswag



anna heringer (b. 1977) studied architecture at linz university of the arts, austria. since 2004 she has held a lecture there, and is project manager at BASE – habitat/architekturkonzepte, linz university of the arts. in 2006 she began her doctoral studies at munich technical university, on strategies for sustainable building in northern bangladesh. she is vice chairwoman of shanti, a german-bangladeshi partnership founded in 1983, with the aim of arranging exchange programs such as the transfer of professional volunteers.


eike roswag (b. 1969) completed his architectural studies at berlin technical university in 2000, after which he took on freelance architectural work and consultancies. in 2003, he joined ZRS architects and engineers to plan and build a variety of projects using earth as a building material. in 2006, he joined the staff of berlin technical university and founded roswag & jankowski architects partnership.


founded in 1978, dipshikha – informal education, training and research society for village development is a bangladeshi development organization set up to encourage the independence of communities in rural bangladesh through sustainable development.


the METI school won the aga khan award for architecture 2007
all images © kurt hörbst

  • interesting post

    inspired says:
  • more of this please 🙂

    ifpossible says:
  • i’m amazed! projects like this show me, you can design and create everywhere, at every level 😀

    bea says:
  • love this, what an honor to the people in the community and to the power of design and it’s ability to bring hearts, minds and hands together

    floraharidan says:
  • bea, what ‘level’ would this project be at, other than the highest?

    patroniser says:
  • Where’s IKEA when you’re in heaven?

    bgcaseiro says:
  • both the intention and the result are truely noble. a masterpiece of architecture and detailing.

    keren says:
  • yes!! more of this please..and thanks for the info 🙂

    kala21 says:
  • same type of construction is carried ot in our collage as a one week workshop in our college.

    nain says:
  • This is heart-warming. I love the idea of localize approach.

    Aris says:
  • this local combination is wonderful!!

    dave says:
  • Great job! Check out her webpage to see similar works done in Bangladesh and South Africa.

    Ali Manco says:
  • really impressive….love this kind of architecture

    osayowais says:
  • stebilized mud blocs cn be usd as an ulternative of dis.dos hv more strength.

    nain says:
  • looks like everyone is in total agreement there. Only goes to show that when something truly, genuinely good and beautiful happens, nothing and no one can deny it. This work is truly commendable. Anna, Eike, ‘Dipshikha’ …… congrats!

    rang emei says:
  • its pleasure to Bangladesh where vernacular architecture will happening……

    ar.zamee says:
  • I will use this as a part of a presentation I am doing 1, March in Bilar, Bohol, Philippines.

    JHSolomon, II, PhD says:
  • don’t miss to visit a nice exhibition entitled ‘building somewhere else’, which presents projects and
    the realizations of two architecture teams: the norwegian TYIN association (two young architects
    andreas grøntvedt gjertsen and yashar hanstad) and the here featured german architect anna heringer.

    the exhibition is curated by jean-pierre blanc and florence sarano and runs from
    february 14 through march 28, 2010 [url=] at villa noailles, hyères, france. [/url]

    birgit / designboom says:
  • Aberdeen, UK has a guy we £50 milloin going and is not sure what to do we it…Union Terrace Gardens is iin his mind, why not this would be much better way o uisin the cash

    sonico says:
  • Beautifully crafted spaces..

    Shane Ang says:
  • it is fantastic. please send my regards to participant students, an architect from iran

    [email protected]

    maziar says:
  • i like that the main concern is the people and that what we should do now instead of ruining our planet, amazing project

    liaqat says:
  • Fantastic!! Congratulations! is beautiful!

    Ana Moreno says:
  • amazing work!!!!!!!!

    chinks...... says:
  • fantastic work!!!… please more of this!!!! congratulation…

    lidyce says:
  • this work is a beautifull very very. Im sorry the teacher under the pupil. This is a cat.

    alejo says:
  • its more widely using in pondicheri,and kerala(both in INDIA).dey even construct domes and vaults out of earth blocks.

    nain says:
  • Amazing!…

    Carla Lopes says:
  • that’s so cool architecture….

    We’ve learned to do this so with many ways to construct for better atmosphere in my country also..

    SingleMom designer says:
  • peut-etre la huitieme merveille du monde!love!

    paul says:
  • Loved it, Genius. That’s real architecture, all the important principles of architecture are here well executed.

    Now go away blobmeisters….don’t want to see anymore blobs!!! “Why do dogs lick their balls? just because they can!” approach to blobs architecture are so tiresome….

    Serena Chan says:
  • great work done.

    sheetal udhani says:
  • AWESOME …:)

    gopal meena says:
  • Interesting section. The use of bamboo as a cladding on the upper part of the school, makes i very interesting. The impact of LINES created by the Bamboo complements the MASS feel of the stablized mud wall and the overall impact is of a huge but light building.

    ANAND KHATRI says:
  • It’s intuitive and ingenious use of vernacular architecture and materials available at the site.
    Truly beautiful use of colors…
    Good work guys!
    We should do more of this to make the environment more healthy and happy 🙂

    SHOPinc/Sohee says:
  • I was impressed by this work in particular and very excited about this global rescue of the local construction system as part of a recognition of non-central cultures. I was recently given some lots in a small town in north-western Argentina and my dream is to be able to build some kind of dwelling following these traditional techniques.Besides adobe arquitecture has a long tradition in this region but it was wrongly forgotten. The land is available I need financial help and technical consultancy. The location is Tinogasta, may be some people heard of this area because of the world rally championship but there are many natural sites and historical places with huge potential to promote the region without spoiling or ruining it as it is happening nowadays with multinational mining companies. Mail me to [email protected]

    Eric Breppe says:

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