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Quest for Regionalist Architecture in Bangladesh

By : K. Iftekhar Ahmed

This paper is concerned with regionalist architecture, much in vogue during the 1970s-80s, but which now seems to have lost currency. Yet, in the present globalisation context, it is important to reconsider it because as contact between societies is increasing, finding uniqueness beyond homogeneity and predictability within one’s own society and immediate surroundings assumes greater meaning. Taking the case of Bangladesh, the development of regionalist architecture here through recent eras is discussed. Expatriate architects, such as Louis Kahn, when working in Bangladesh attempted to create architecture through regional inspiration, which motivated a genre of local architects. The architect Bashirul Haq’s work has a distinct regional flavour, which is why it has been chosen to discuss his work in this paper. As a case study, the PRISM Fish Farm, a rural institutional building designed by Bashirul Haq is reviewed. The main intention is to examine underneath the apparent regionalist veneer to understand to what extent the building relates to local culture, social ethos, climate, environment and economy. Despite shortcomings in some respects, this building stands as a remarkable example of regionalist architecture.

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