Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury graduated in
architecture from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
(BUET) in 1995 and, after working with architect Uttam Kumar Saha, he
established the practice URBANA in partnership in 1995 and, from 2004, has
continued as the sole principal of the firm. Kashef Chowdhury has a studio-based
practice whose works find root in history with a strong emphasis on climate,
materials and context – both natural and human. Projects in the studio are
given extended time for research so as to reach a level of innovation and
original expression. Works range from the conversion of a ship and low-cost
raised settlements in “chars” to a training centre, mosque, art gallery,
museum, residences and multi-family housing, as well as corporate head offices.
Chowdhury has been a visiting faculty member at the North South University and
BRAC University, both in Bangladesh. In 2006, he attended a Glenn Murcutt masterclass
in Sydney, Australia. He has twice been a finalist in the Aga Khan Award for
Architecture and won first prize in Architectural Review's AR+D Emerging Architecture
Chowdhury takes an active interest in art and
in 2004 presented a lecture series Aspects
of Contemporary Art in Germany at the Goethe Institut, Dhaka. He has worked
as a professional photographer and has held seven solo exhibitions. He has
designed and published three books: Around
Dhaka, 2004; Plot Number Fifty Six,
2009 and The Night of Fifteen November,
2011 – a photographic and recorded account of some survivors of the cyclone
SIDR in the coastal areas of Bangladesh.
Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016.
The Centre was created to train staff of an NGO working with people inhabiting nearby chars, or riverine islands. Offices, a library, meeting rooms, and prayer and tea rooms are included in pavilion-like buildings surrounded by courts and pools. The Centre is also rented out for meetings, training, and conferences for income generation. The local hand-made brick construction has been inspired by the monastic aesthetic of the 3rd century BC ruins of Mahasthangahr, the earliest urban archaeological site yet found in Bangladesh. Structural elements are of reinforced concrete and finishes also include timber and stone. The naturally ventilated structures have green roofs. The Centre is located in an agricultural area susceptible to flooding and earthquakes, and whose low-bearing soil has a low bearing capacity. As a result, an embankment has been constructed with a water run-off pumping facility. Constructed and finished primarily of one material - local hand-made bricks - the spaces are woven out of pavilions, courtyards, pools and greens, corridors and shadows. The Friendship Centre is divided into two sections, the outer Ko block for the offices, library and training classrooms and the inner Kho block for the residential section. At a time, 80 people can be trained here in four separate classrooms. Simplicity is the intent, monastic is the feel.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Design 2008-2010, construction 2010 - 2011, completion 2011