To find a common cultural identity
Promiti Prova Chowdhury Arts & Culture

The legacy of Mazharul Islam on the architects of Bangladesh

  • Rafiq Azam’s work focuses mainly on collective housing or individual residences and explores the dialogue between architecture, geography and the natural elements surrounding their environment.  
    Photo- SA Residence, Gulshan, Dhaka

In the current era of globalisation, the primary challenge of architecture in Bangladesh is to find a common cultural identity. This exhibition, “The Legacy of Mazharul Islam,” pays tribute to the late architect (1923-2012) responsible for inviting Louis Kahn to create Bangladesh’s parliament building. He had a great influence on other architects of the nation.

This exhibition is a journey through modern and contemporary Bangladeshi architecture, showcasing 3D models, blueprints, sketches and photos, some signature works, as well as videos of the architects presenting their projects. 

The participating architects are: Bashirul Haq. Shamsul Wares Raziul Ahsan, Saif Ul Haque, Jalal Ahmad, Uttam Kumar Saha Nahas Ahmed Khalil, Rafiq Azam, Ehsan Khan, Nurur Rahman Khan Mustapha Khalid Palash Enamul Karim Nirjhar, Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury Marina Tabassum, Salauddin Ahmed and Stéphane Paumier.

“From Independence, Muzharul Islam singlehandedly innovated a modernist language in his buildings,” said Bangladeshi architect Kazi Khaleed Ashraf in an interview with the curator. 

“He tried to establish ... a norm for a modern culture in architecture, which is about discourse and investigation, rational practices and finally being aware of the contribution of architects in society,” said Ashraf, who is the current director general of Bengal Institute of Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements in Dhaka. 

“He did not copy any kind of elements from tradition,” added Ashraf. “He was strongly devoted to the spirit of the place, its political history, and its cultural legacy.”

Regarding Dhaka’s architecture, Ashraf said: “It is not enough to note what is wrong in our city, the traffic, social inequality, lack of public facilities. We know these. The challenge is elsewhere. To me it is how a city like Dhaka is going to be reorganised with the landscape.” 

Promiti Prova Chowdhury

Promiti Prova Chowdhury is a journalist.

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