PAM launches book by renowned Bangladeshi architect

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) has launched  the first-ever monograph on contemporary architectural practice in Bangladesh, dedicated to international award-winning architect Mohammad Rafiq Azam.

“Schools only taught me about scale and measurements. I learnt the true meaning of architecture from my mother who taught me that structures are containers of memories and emotions,” Rafiq said at the event on Wednesday, adding that it gave him immense pleasure to be here, thanks to the support from PAM.

Chan Seong Aun, president of PAM, said he is proud that a fellow Asian architect is doing so well and that Rafiq has a rare talent of blending his designs seamlessly with the environment.

Tan Loke Mun, director of ArchiCentre Sdn Bhd and immediate past president of PAM, said it is a great honour to work with one of the top 10 significant architects of this decade on the S P Setia headquarters in Setia Alam, Shah Alam in Selangor.

“We are proud to have such a hands-on and passionate architect as Rafiq is a close friend of PAM,” said Lee Chor Wah, past president of the institute.

Rafiq is one of the internationally acclaimed architects from Bangladesh who has been practising for the last 22 years. He recently received the Residential Building of the Year Award at the 2012 Emirates Glass LEAF Awards at the 2012 London Design Festival.

He has a holistic approach to design, which not only incorporates the elements of nature, but also harnesses its beauty and potential in a practical way to enhance the personal experience of a building.

From his uniquely Bangladeshi perspective, the human form has two parts, with the body as the shell and thoughts as the soul — the building manifests as the shell and nature as its soul.

Rafiq had received the Residential Building of the Year Award at the 2012 Emirates Glass LEAF Awards at the 2012 London Design Festival.

Considering the socio-economic and city-planning conditions in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, Rafiq’s architectural vocabulary is kept simple and essential, with traditional spaces like the courtyard, pond, ghat (steps leading into water) and ample internal and external greenery that merges urban and rural typologies in an intensely urban context.

He arranges water courts as swimming ponds in the middle of homes, natural light rooms, and unfolding wall systems to emphasise the inter-relationship between form and space.

With more than 200 colour and black-and-white plates, exquisite design sketches, and aerial views, as well as watercolour paintings and inspirational phrases, this exceptionally beautiful book is a unique introduction and insight into a visionary architect and Bangladeshi contemporary living and culture.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 28, 2014.

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