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     Volume 2 Issue 120 | May 24, 2009|


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BUET Team wins International Architectural Competition

Asst. Professor Mojumder speaks with Star Campus

Ridwan Karim

A team from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) recently performed the marvellous feat of winning the first prize of an international architectural design competition titled 'Design for the Children', held in USA. Design For The Children, a collaboration of Fight for the Children, Architecture for Humanity: Seattle, and American Institute of Architects: Seattle, is an open, international design competition asking architects and designers from around the world to develop a sustainable, culturally responsive, pediatric clinic model for East Africa. Assistant Professor of BUET Sheikh Ahsan Ulllah Mojumder led the team that emerged victorious over 300 entries from 30 countries. He shared his reflections with Star Campus regarding the competition and the task that it entailed.

The constraints inherent in the prevailing conditions of Africa today made the project all the more thought-provoking. Asst. Professor Mojumder disclosed certain facts and figures of Africa that speak volumes about the existing dismal conditions. Each year more than 10 million of African children die of diseases preventable and treatable. New mothers and newborn children are deprived of rudimentary health care. One child dies every 15 seconds in Africa due to the lack of clean drinking water. Women and children walk a staggering 6 miles a day on average to collect water for everyday chores. Because of this desperate scenario, the team from BUET decided that their design should reinforce a sense of hope. The dimensions of activities of this pediatric clinic should not be constrained to the term 'clinic'; rather it would become a symbol of expectation for better future for the children, an emblem of aspiration for the people of Africa.

Another crucial consideration that dictated Team BUET's design was to make the clinic a center for interaction so as to breed understanding and empathy. This is particularly important in the current context of Africa, where racially motivated tribal wars are rampant.

That is why 'interaction for awareness' is a core component of the design. Delicate design considerations are attempted to intensify every little possibilities of interaction. A towering water reservoir, an outdoor pavilion for teaching and recreation and the strategic positioning of the labor ward, maternal ward and the central court are some of the ways by which the design attains this objective.

The construction phase of the design is based on simplistic and indigenous techniques and follows a basic module requiring public participation. There is barely any complexity in the construction process as the local people are expected to be the builders, without any aid of modern tools and machines. Though the plan may appear simple, the architectural details are extremely intricate, taking advantage of the unique climate of Africa and not adversely affecting the environment.

Team BUET's entry into the competition exemplifies the notion of sustainable architecture and its importance. According to Asst. Professor Mojumder, sustainable development is the challenge of meeting growing human needs for natural resources, industrial products, energy, food, transportation, shelter, and effective waste management while conserving and protecting environmental quality and the natural resource base essential for future life and development. Although the project was carried out in the context of East Africa, he believes that the time for applying this concept in Bangladesh has arrived in order to manage resources properly to maintain good ecological balance and meet the growing need of the future generation.

If this project is implemented, Asst. Prof Mojumder believes that architecture as a whole would have once again lived up to its reputation of having an amazing power to act as a catalyst to reform, regenerate and revitalize the society.

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