Fifth LafargeHolcim Awards

56 LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2014 Latin America: Articulated Site – Water reservoirs as public park, Medellín, Colombia Global LafargeHolcim Awar s finalis 2018 Sixty years ago, Dhaka’s population was 500,000 inhabitants. Today, 18 million peo- ple live in the capital of Bangladesh. And the vigorous growth is continuing: The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicts that 27 million people will live in Dhaka by 2030. But the city has almost no land left; in some areas the density ex- ceeds 45,000 people per square kilometer – one of the highest rates in the world. The growth is not sustainable: 40 percent of the population lives in unhealthy conditions in ramshackle slums. 70 percent of the coun- try’s sewage is dumped raw into lakes and rivers. The poorest receive aid from organizations such as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC). The institution was founded in 1972 following the Bangladesh Liberation War and is now one of the world’s largest NGOs. Originally, BRAC worked to im- prove people’s living conditions, especially by providing microcredits, but today the NGO focuses on promoting self-empowerment of individuals in many ways, including the BRAC University in Dhaka, which was found- ed in 2001. The university is one of the best in the nation. Until now, the student body of over 6,000 has been taught in various rented buildings. Because a new government policy requires private universities to operate a campus, in 2012 BRAC began planning a central permanent campus in Dhaka. The problem with a construction project of this size in Dhaka is that there is hardly any adequate site available in the densely populated city. BRAC’s best option was to acquire several contiguous plots of a swamp- land within the city district. To master the challenge of building a new campus on this site, the NGO turned to WOHA Architects. The Singapore-based architectural firm is re- nowned for designing sustainable high-den- sity buildings, with references including the Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore and The Met in Bangkok. WOHA master-planned the new BRAC University campus in collab- oration with the German engineering firm Transsolar and the Bangladesh-based archi- tectural firm J.A. Architects. How did this international collaboration come about? Richard Hassell (WOHA): Our initial contact with BRAC University was in 2007, through a design competition. One of the professors was on the jury that judged our entry, and she found our approach interesting. This contact led to us giving some lectures at BRAC University, and one of the projects we presented was our Singapore School of the Arts, a naturally ventilated, low-energy, high-density building that would later serve “We intend to moderately upgrade the neighborhood” Jalal Ahmad “Many architects design buildings simply according to the prevailing notion of modern architecture” Wolfgang Kessling