Floating University in Bangladesh

23.5°N TROPIC OF CANCER 23.5°S TROPIC OF CAPRICORN 1989 1999 2009 CONTEXT TRANSFERABILITY A country of outstanding natural beauty, Bangladesh has a particularly close relationship between humans, water and land in the immense river delta. Bangladesh has a unique path to independence expressed through the modern movement, with one of the movement’s most important buildings Louis Kahn’s National Assembly Building, and one with a great influence on subsequent architecture worldwide. Bangladesh has a rich history intersecting with this geography, with many vibrant and colourful cultures. Of the 16 global megacities with a population of 18 million or more, 12 of them are in the tropical belt... The integrated and centrally managed solutions developed in the developed, temperate megacities of New York, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo are not necessarily appropriate to these cities... The rational, top-down sweeping solutions of the Chinese megacities, are not possible in the ad-hoc, chaotic, bottom-up culture of the cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America... In these places, stand-alone prototypes can inspire replication and be applied at a variety of scales when and where opportunity arises. This culture is expressed in the living culture and celebrations of the city, with many festivals and parades. However, the exuberance of the temporary culture contrasts with the banal material expression of the city. Dhaka has many urban challenges, with a huge population, strained resources, and lack of infrastructure. The river delta city has been subject to terrible flooding, but this is starting to improve due to creative and active interventions. Dhaka can be a difficult environment, with too much pollution, waste and lack of care of the public realm.Wewant to not onlymitigate harm, but do good, restoring public, green and water spaces, bringing the delight of traditional Bangladesh back to grim urban Dhaka. The kites of Dhaka, sailing free above the gritty city, inspire with the hope of a beautiful future VIEW OF BREEZEWAY ATRIUM VIEW OF RAINGARDEN Client BRAC is an NGO with a vision of a world free from exploitation and discrimination, and where everybody has the opportunity to realize their potential. BRAC’s mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social justice. The values of Integrity, Innovation, Inclusiveness and Effectiveness are at the core of the organisation. The university is part of this mission and is to be a model of sustainable development in Dhaka. WOHA met BRAC University staff through the Aga Khan Award in 2007, where WOHA’s project reviewer was Professor Zainab Faruqui Ali from BRAC University. Soon, BRAC and WOHA realized that they shared a commitment to effective and appropriate development. This synergy soon led to teaching and lecture visits in Dhaka and to WOHA being commissioned for the design of BRAC University campus. Context and Progress Dhaka has a population of over 18 million, and a density of 23,234 people per square kilometer – more than double the density of Manhattan – and is particularly vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels, being located on the floodplains of the Bay of Bengal. Dhaka has made much progress in planning and aspires to move from an incremental development model to an integrated model development to address its urban challenges. However, most sites are very small and privately owned, giving little scope for integrated development. BRAC University, as a significant larger development, provides a prototype for other developments to emulate with the integration of public space, recreational space and water management within its own boundaries. While the development is of a much larger scale than the existing ad-hoc neighborhood, this is a necessary part of the solution for moving to a city that integrates much needed amenity spaces – small sites are both plentiful and problematic for the city’s transformation. A city of 18 million people cannot be adequately served solely with small buildings. The urban scale has not been ignored, it is acknowledged through the strategy of assemblage. The building is an agglomeration of several components that are of a similar scale and form to the surrounding buildings. The difference between the development and the surrounding area is that the common and in- between spaces, rather than being left-over and uncared-for, are vital and enjoyable amenity spaces that also designed to perform at a high level for energy harvesting, natural light and ventilation. Appropriateness, Progress and Place It can be difficult with western eyes to appreciate the unique issues of the developing world, particularly the issue of quantity. Low- rise, low-density western-style solutions simply take up too much space to address the urgent needs of millions and millions of people. The familiar low-density prototypes of high-quality environments (garden suburbs, sprawling low-rise campuses) are not appropriate or possible for such population densities. The central problem that needs to be solved is achieving high-density and low-energy environments that achieve a comparable quality of life to that enjoyed by the developed world – a quality of life that was achieved in the West with low-density, high-energy buildings. WOHA have been exploring high-amenity/high-density/low-energy in a series of projects over two decades, and now bring this experience to BRAC University, to allow a campus to co-exist with plentiful outdoor space and gardens, in one of the densest cities on the planet. Innovation The project has several areas of innovation, social and cultural, formal, and technical. Socially and culturally, the university is part of the entire innovative ecosystem of BRAC, where Sir Abed’s vision of everyone realizing their potential can be implemented through education: ” BRAC acts as a catalyst, creating opportunities for people living in poverty to realise their potential through a network of development programmes, social enterprises, investments and a university. Sustainability is embedded in every intervention BRAC designs. We look at people living in poverty not as recipient of charity but as actors who can change their own lives by using the tools and capacity BRAC provides. From sustainable livelihood generation to promoting sustainable living, our effort in the coming days will get stronger in making BRAC a climate smart organisation. BRAC University will play a lead role by researching, designing and providing thought leadership on this and by creating leaders who are sensitive to the needs of building a greener planet. ” The form of the building takes further the innovations tested previously in WOHA’s projects especially the School of the Arts, a project completed in 2010 in Singapore. Making a very large building naturally lit and ventilated requires a radically different approach to the “big box” approach that became default in the late twentieth century for large projects. Instead, a return to the passive devices of the nineteenth century institutional building – courtyards, wings, galleries – is combined in a tall buildingwith stacking and sectional openings and organized to enhance wind flow and side-lighting. The formal innovations are therefore in strategic organization of components to achieve precise and desirable climatic, social and biophilic results, rather than in novelty of façade expression or shape. Technically, this passive model is then pushed to a much higher performance through the precise use of simple technologies, used to shift the environmental conditions into a tropically adapted comfort zone, using hybrid cooling and adaptive comfort. Board 4 explains these techniques in more detail. While these are not new concepts, this is the first time they have been embedded so seamlessly into a very large and complex building. Transferability The design solution proposed is highly transferable across the global tropics. The principles – multiple ground levels, natural ventilation where practical, and tempering climate when needed – are designed for the real-life conditions and requirements of the developingworld– theneed for safeandpleasant shelteredoutdoor spaces, the need for the building to function well during power outages, the need for large buildings to be robust and simple in their design and systems so they can cope with less-than-perfect facilities management and infrastructure. The design is robust and resilient, and while it functions as a stand- alone prototype of delight, rationality and efficiency, it embeds strong connections to an improving neighborhood. This strategy allows it to be implemented immediately and independently, but will catalyse improvements by attracting business, by leading by example, and by engagement with the surrounding district and stakeholders. Dhaka has experienced an explosion of urban fabric in the last 25 years, with a massive loss of public space, green areas and water bodies. The natural beauty of the land has disappeared, being replaced with a very challenging urban environment. It is imperative that the larger scale new developments integrate these common goods that are the physical basis of any civic society. LEGEND DMP Boundary Builtup Area Water Body Vegetation Bare Soil Mexico City 21 million Sao Paolo 21 million Lagos 13 million Kinshasa 12 million Jakarta 11 million Guangzhou 12 million Shenzhen 11 million Manila 13 million Mumbai 21 million Kolkata 15 million Dhaka 17 million Rio de Janeiro 13 million