In early 2017, the inaugural Samdani Architecture Award invited, through open call, individuals or groups of 3rd and 4th year Bangladeshi Architecture students to propose new models for learning in abandoned urban spaces across Bangladesh, using ecologically sustainable, and locally sourced materials and technology. Participants were required to design an imaginative and innovative open pavilion, both visually stimulating and architecturally flexible for different functions, including lectures, events and workshops. The winning proposal was selected by an international jury: Aurélien Lemonier (National Museum of the History of Immigration, Paris, France); Jeannette Plaut (Constructo, Santiago de Chile); and Shamshul Wares (Department of Architecture, State University
From 135 registrations, Maksudul Karim’s (b. 1996) design, Chhaya Tori (ছায়া তরী), which translates as Shadow Boat, was selected. A level 3, B.Sc. Architecture student at Premier University in Chittagong, Karim’s design utilised traditional Shampan boat building techniques—synonymous with Bangladesh’s fishing communities—bringing traditional rural Bangladeshi construction techniques into the urban environment. Using bamboo as its primary construction material, Chhaya Tori (Shadow Boat) floated above ground level on bamboo supports, covered with a shade (known locally as choi) and was erected using traditional bamboo inter-weaving techniques, allowing natural light to fall into the internal teaching space. Bangladesh has one of the largest inland waterway networks in the world with nearly 5,000 miles of navigable waters, making boats a vital mode of transportation to the nation. Despite this, the use of traditional boat building methods is in decline in favour of mechanised mass-produced models.
“Maksudul Karim took up themes from the origins of the tectonics as the interlacing of materials and fibres proposing an habitable structure. Exploring local materials and techniques he offered experiences based in the generation and superposition of shadows with different sieves that presented an organic changing atmosphere.”
- Jeannette Plaut, Co-Founder and Director Constructo, and Samdani Architecture Award Jury Member
Karim was awarded the inaugural Samdani Architecture Award at the Dhaka Art Summit 2018 Opening Dinner on 2 February and received funding towards further studies.