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Houses in Bangladesh by Anna Heringer with BASEhabitat, BRAC University and Dipshikha

AR_EA 2008 prize winner: a Bangladeshi self-help programme is reaping rewards

Originally published in AR December 2008, this piece was republished online in November 2015

Two years ago Anna Heringer won an AR Emerging Architecture Award for a hand-built school in Bangladesh. The spirit of that programme continues, and this latest example shows an extension of ambition, still working in Rudrapur.

This entry comprises three individual homes created by the HOMEmade project, and a mixed-use education facility (the DESI building), all of which use local materials, labour and aspiration. Mud and bamboo are the local materials, available at minimal cost, neither involving energy-expensive manufacturing processes. The buildings are two-storey, a 100 per cent intensification of site use, minimising the amount of land currently being taken out of agricultural production.

While certain local traditions continue to be observed, for example separate buildings for lavatories and bathrooms, major improvements have been made to the traditional dwelling, which is sometimes occupied by families and animals. The overall space shown in these examples is sufficient to allow the whole family to congregate indoors, and allows children to do homework in peace and quiet.

In the case of the education building, a vocational school for future electricians, the vernacular organisation of separated buildings/uses around a central courtyard has been transformed. They now take place in a single structure, comprising offices, classrooms and dwellings for instructors. There are separate bathroom and lavatory blocks for teachers and students.

Energy needs are met 100 per cent by use of solar panels, with warm water provided via a solar thermal heating system. The lavatories have their own two-chamber septic tanks, the first time these have been incorporated into earth buildings in Bangladesh. The combination of very basic building methods and modes of technology is intended to act as a guide to other communities in this densely populated country: double the size of your homes in a way that does not impinge on agricultural land, and which sits lightly on the planet.

Houses, Rudrapur, Bangladesh

Architect: Anna Heringer, Salzburg in cooperation with BASEhabitat, BRAC University and Dipshikha

Supervision design: Anna Heringer, Khondaker Hasibul Kabir, Stefan Neumann

Photographs: B. K. S. Inan

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