September-October 2014 – Architectural Digest India
From the flat, straight country road that heads from the northern Bangladeshi town of Gaibandha to the banks of the Jamuna River, the Friendship Centre looks like little more than a mound of grass and a volume of red brick looking over the low-lying rice paddies across the way. Standing atop that mound (really a 10-foot embankment), you’ll have an entirely different view: a series of red brick pavilions and courtyards capped with flat, grassy rooftops that, from here, looks subterranean, figuratively unearthed.
“Buddhist monasteries are all around this place from the seventh, eighth, ninth centuries—all in brick, all in ruins,” says the Kashef Chowdhury, the Dhaka-based architect whose firm, Urbana, designed and built the two-acre project for a miniscule budget of just tk.4 crores. Those monasteries are a clear point of reference for the Centre, built as a training facility for an NGO called Friendship back in 2010, but the impulse to dig, to excavate a contemporary architecture from the earth, is as essential to Bangladesh’s rich modernist history as the invention of Chandigarh has been to India’s. (more…)