Selected Entries 2018


Tahsin Rahman
Dept. of Architecture (BUET) | Dhaka

Can built forms be a custodian of the un-built? Can the man-made craft an enhanced experience of being in nature? How can architecture connect humans to landscape?

The discussion occurs in the context of Jaliar Dwip, a small island on Naaf river in Bangladesh. Once home to a lush mangrove swamp, it has now been turned into a near-barren piece of land for aquaculture. On top of that, there are plans to undertake developments in the name of a ‘tourism complex’ that threatens to wipe the slate clean and commence construction completely disregarding the context.

However, it is absolutely possible to have a more sustainable approach in creating a space for leisure and reflection. At the same time, it is possible to explore educational or learning opportunities regarding preservation of existing flora and fauna. The proposal, thus, aims to introduce strategic architectural elements which can help revive the natural heritage, and create an experience that doesn’t come at the cost of the very landscape it’s nestled in. The project also seeks to explore how architecture can reestablish the connection of humans to the landscape through minimum intervention.

The program is thus divided into three zones:  Conserved Area, Educational zone and Recreational zone. This division takes place both spatially and temporally, as the built forms are placed in site keeping in time with the rehabilitation of the island’s flora and fauna.

Phase one: Because the pristine environment of Jaliar Dwip has been destroyed by years of salt cultivation and aquaculture, the very first agenda is to rehabilitate the mangrove forest the island was home to. In order to facilitate this long process that spans years, an Eco-hub and multiple learning modules are placed at strategic locations. The learning modules help to house the tools and resources necessary to conduct the replantation and provide space for onsite lodging to allow more hands-on participation. The replantation is controlled from the central Eco-hub which monitors the conserved area and acts as an awareness center, providing information and training to those interested to learn more about the process.   

Phase two: Once the initial plantation has grown to a level where human interaction can be allowed in an extremely controlled manner, bird hides and walking trails are introduced. The bird hides allow for bird watching and train visitors to identify the plethora of birds that take home in mangrove forests. The walking trail, which connects the info centers placed in phase one, allows people to experience the flora and fauna very closely without harming them, since human activities are confined to the path only. The info centers provide platforms for interactive training sessions on both building and preserving natural heritage.

Phase three: Finally, when the forest has matured enough to allow human presence at a greater extent, the recreational aspects are introduced in the form of eco-cabins and houseboats. The eco-cabins can provide long-term accommodation for researchers, as well as short-term accommodation for travelers. While the houseboats will run along the canals inside the island, providing short-term lodging.

The spatial allocation of the built forms is kept at an absolute minimum, so as to maximize the conserved mangrove swamp area. In order to further ensure that the built masses do not compete with the surroundings, the height of all the structures are kept below 40’, and the use of local materials such as bamboo, wood and Golpata (Nypa Fruticans) is maximized.

The project begins with a question: Can man build something to un-build the devastation he has caused? By using architecture to both preserve and promote Mangrove rehabilitation in Jaliar Dwip, it tries to answer that question with an affirmation.