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A Momentary Pause in Time |

Place Making at Faculty of Social Sciences, Dhaka University

Project Type: Public Project, Place-Making through Architecture as Landscape Event
Project Location: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Project Area: 20,000 sq. ft. 
Lead Architects: Saiqa Iqbal Meghna, Suvro Sovon Chowdhury
Construction: Najmul Ahsan Rajan
Graphic Renderings: Bin Sayeed Bakhti, Sadia Humayra Mounata
Photography: Iwan Baan, Amlin Iqbal Eshita, Noufel Sharif Sojol, Saiqa Iqbal Meghna

Despite being located at the heart of University of Dhaka, surrounded by significant buildings like Dhaka University Central Mosque, Central Library, Central Student Union Building, and the historical café ‘Modhur Canteen’, the project site remained ‘unattended’ for years. The place itself had nothing to offer to the users, and was being used for shortcuts and dumping zones for several years. Focus has been given on to ‘discover’ the essence of the ‘place’ itself by evolving the landscape formation from site-specific design decisions responding to the existing tree locations and surrounding structures of cultural, historic and programmatic significance. 
A ‘Choreographed Zone’ for meeting young minds is designed addressing Culture, Climate and Ecology. The design approach pushes the boundary of the conventional through experimental material expressions and surprising sudden spaces to offer ecologically sound public places. Ever since the project was opened to the public, it has been serving as one of the most vibrant urban public spaces to a certain scale for Dhaka City, holding the gathering of a diversified user group alongside the students, faculties and staff of Dhaka University. 

The project achieved the IAB Design Award in 2018, the most prestigious professional architectural design award of the country to recognize, honor and promote outstanding examples of contemporary architecture in Bangladesh and encourage excellence in architectural practice.  It has also been featured in the book ‘Bengal Stream: The Vibrant Architecture Scene of Bangladesh’, published by the Swiss Architecture Museum and exhibited in Switzerland, France, Germany as part of the exhibition under the same name as the book.

The essence of this public place is in a carefully designed ‘Chattar’ (a Bengali term to define an open gathering space surrounded by built-forms) for university campus, the center for socio-cultural and political hub of the Nation. In a rigorous process of Place Making, the interventions have been imagined and acted creatively towards the solution of an ‘Existential Theater’- ‘the Chattar’.  The Semi-open Pavilion is serving as a food kiosk which generates the income for the maintenance of the landscape. Introduction of the water body serves the birds and animals of the site. Over the period of the last four years, a strong ‘sense of belongingness’ for the place has grown among the User groups. 
The construction process was mainly based on the very basic idea of ‘Dig and Mound’, traditionally used in local context. Topographical layers are created within a range of 3 feet below and above ground to create forms and shapes in the land formation. The focus has been given on developing an archive of memories and designing a multi-sensory experience through materiality. Perforated bricks were used with patterned combinations of soft pave to hard pave. Red Oxide coated metal installations combined with turquoise colored neat cement finish infuses an essence of ‘ruins’ and creates a rich ‘peripheral image’.

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