Rafiq Azam Wins Residential Building of the Year Award

Residential Building of the Year Award, S.A Residence, Bangladesh

As a young emerging graduate Rafiq Azam had designed the Drik Gallery in 1993. He then designed the Pathshala Faculty Residence and is also the architect for the planned Drik/Pathshala building in Panthapath. Rafiq, Drik and Pathshala have all gone on to win international acclaim. The recent Emirates Glass Leaf Award, won by Rafiq Azam is the latest in a string of awards won by this talented Bangladeshi.
Drik Terrace. ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Dhaka-based Rafiq Azam of Shatotto received the ?Residential Building of the Year Award? (multiple occupancy), for SA Residence project, at the 2012 Emirates Glass LEAF Awards, which took place during this year?s London Design Festival.
The human form has two parts ? body as the shell and thoughts as the soul. Architecture is similar, with the building envelope as the shell and nature as the soul.
The building envelope of this three-storey contemporary Bangladesh residence is a pure square, constructed of a single material, cast-concrete. The sphere, the universal celestial form, in this case is transformed to its terrestrial expression in the shape of a square.
Considering the socio-economic conditions of Dhaka, the architectural vocabulary is kept simple, with traditional spaces like the courtyard, pond, ghat  (steps to water) and ample green to merge together urban and rural typologies in this urban context.
Multistory buildings surround the site, so an introverted design strategy was adopted, placing a water-court as a swimming pool in the middle of the house to ensure privacy. It is the interrelationship between form and void which is at the heart of 18th-century mystic minstrel Lalon?s philosophy: ?If one thing is not there inside the body, then it is not outside the body either,? which was the underlying inspiration for this building. The open quad at the centre depicts nothingness.
The south and southeast faces have been designed to bring in cool breeze during the hot, humid summer and the warmth of the sun during the winter. The central water court acts as a natural exhaust system, allowing hot air to escape and making the middle court a cool sanctuary.
A small boat waits by the ghat , green and light with its silence ? and the space becomes a natural habitat within a man-made dwelling, with layers of understanding to unfold nothingness.

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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