Architecture is an art...
Architecture is a creative pursuit like music, fine arts, dance and sculpture. One cannot create architecture by force, as it is improper. It has to be accomplished with comprehensive knowledge of all the active factors in the society.
Leading architect Muzharul Islam said this while narrating how an aspiration for architecturally planned development of Dhaka as the capital city has failed.
“One of the preoccupations in my works was to create a Bangladeshi trend of architecture incorporating the contemporary trends in world architecture,” said the architect in an interview with Star City recently.
“I consciously attempted to assimilate and highlight Bangladeshi space, movement, materials, climate, history and culture in my works,” he added.
"It requires consciousness about various factors of the entire society to carry out development in a consistent, planned and aesthetic manner, which is not possible in isolation. Society as a whole has to realise the need for an organised development."
"Unfortunately, it has not happened in our case," lamented Muzharul Islam. “A few of us made some attempts to give an organised shape to the society's physical and intellectual growth but they virtually failed. Policymakers and managers today appear unaware and careless of the necessity for architecturally planned development.”
Architect Islam said he, among others, was involved in the process of bringing famous American architect Louis I Kahn to Bangladesh to design not only the parliament building but also to plan whole of Dhaka as the capital city of newborn Bangladesh.
Initially, the idea was that Kahn would prepare the master plan for Dhaka city. “I had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the then president of the country, who agreed with the idea of involving Kahn with Dhaka's planning,” said Islam.
“But unfortunately, the concept went in vain following drastic changes in the country's political scenario. Had the idea come true, physical growth of Dhaka would have been in a planned manner instead of today's messy state," he noted.
Born in 1923, Islam is widely acclaimed as the most influential architect in Bangladesh. He studied civil engineering at Shibpur Engineering College during 1941-45 and served at government's public works department for three years.
He went to America to study architecture on a scholarship as the first student from the then East Pakistan. He further studied architecture at the Yale University.
His pioneering work from the 1950s onwards not only signalled the advent of modernism in Bangladesh, but introduced a fresh culture of architecture in this region.
Architect Muzharul Islam was a juror of the First Aga Khan Award, Geneva in 1980.
He has been honoured with the Master Architect Award in South Asia, nominated for Commonwealth Association of Architects Award and is well recognised in the US.