A remote community hospital, set in the water-laden landscape of the Bengal in south-west Bangladesh, designed by Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA, has won the RIBA International Prize 2021, architecture’s highest global accolade for design excellence and social impact.
The sustainable and low-cost hospital delivers essential healthcare services to the local communities of Satkhira in the southern region of Bangladesh, providing a medical lifeline for thousands of people in an area of the coast that was heavily affected by a major cyclone in 2007.
Lauded for the care and humanity at the heart of its design, the building responds innovatively to the challenging environmental conditions of the Bengal, a fragile and dynamic environment, directly impacted, without protection, to rising sea levels.
Working with long-standing NGO client, Friendship, the hospital was commissioned as part of the organisation’s mission to strengthen and empower remote rural areas. Once surrounded by grain fields, the rising sea water has resulted in this agricultural land being converted into shrimp fisheries. Water is therefore central to the hospital’s design scheme; a canal cuts through the length of the site, separating the inpatients and outpatients. Rainwater from all areas of the complex is drained and stored in a newly built tank – an essential resource and tool to prevent water logging as the saline groundwater is unusable for most practical purposes and draining is needed from increasingly incessant rains. This water channel also helps with micro climatic cooling during the unbearably hot summers, avoiding the need for high energy consuming air-conditioning.
Reflecting the NGO’s commitment to lasting social change, Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA’s design creates an uplifting and inviting experience for visitors, patients and healthcare professionals and a peaceful environment consistent with health and healing. A series of intimate courtyards bring light and natural ventilation to the wards, providing spaces for patients and visitors to rest with viewpoints of the natural surroundings. Sensitive areas of the hospital are protected from direct tropical light through shielded corridors and double-layered arches. Built for longevity, the hospital campus is crafted in local brickwork chosen for its resilient qualities and low cost, with openings in the brickwork offering private shaded areas and natural cooling.
Odile Decq, Chair of the RIBA International Prize Grand Jury, said:
“Friendship Hospital embodies an architecture of humanity and protection that reflects the Friendship NGO’s philanthropic mission to provide dignity and hope to communities through social innovation. Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA has achieved a building designed with a human touch which is deftly integrated with its surroundings and celebrates local, and traditional crafted materials. The hospital is relevant to critical global challenges, such as unequal access to healthcare and the crushing impact of climate breakdown on vulnerable communities. It is a demonstration of how beautiful architecture can be achieved through good design when working with a relatively modest budget and with difficult contextual constraints. This hospital is a celebration of a building dedicated to humans.”
RIBA International Emerging Architect 2021 winner
Hooba Design Group has won the RIBA International Emerging Architect 2021 for The Kohan Ceram Central Office Building, an office building with an internal and external structure built with a unique perforated brick. The biennial prize celebrates the design innovators of tomorrow.
Situated alongside the Sattari highway in Tehran, the architect’s innovative approach to the single use of brick, stretches the creative possibilities of the material to create a homogenous and harmonising structure that divides the busy motorway and the residential neighbourhood.
Manufactured by Kohan Ceram factory, the ‘spectacled brick’ is produced in three different forms with glass, filled, or empty, effectively regulating the building’s temperature and light supply in the dry heat of Tehran, whilst creating an exterior spectacle of light at night. Vegetation planted within voids inside the building filters the polluted air from the main road.
Denise Bennetts, Chair of the RIBA Awards Group, said:
“The judges were impressed by how the practice’s Kohan Ceram Central Office Building successfully addresses a number of key criteria and responds with an architecture of restraint, invention and elegance. Working with an existing structure and collaborating with the client, Hooba Design Group developed an environmentally considered ‘Spectacled Brick’ building which stands out like a glowing beacon on a grey city corner.
The decision to use a single material to create both the external and internal structure results in an intriguing ambiguity about what is solid and what is void; creating different perceptions during day and night. In the dry and polluted climate of Tehran, the building is minimal and cohesive, utilising the facade’s voids to provide light, ventilation and space for vegetation to grow. An uplifting and inspiring design, this project as well as the Hooba Design Group’s collaborative approach to innovation, qualifies them as a worthy recipient of the RIBA International Emerging Architect 2021.”