Handmade: Mud House in Bangladesh
>>Improving conventional building techniques with the combination of modern knowledge<<
improve the human spirit
increase awareness of the environment and/or address climate change
respond to our growing need for clean water, power, shelter, healthcare, education
address humanitarian crises
Located in the midst of the rural setting, this two-storey mud-house is part of the extension project of hand-made Meti-school, Rudropur, Bangladesh. The three hand-built houses were the result of a hands-on workshop for students and young architects conducted in a rural area of Bangladesh. The team included local laborers, students from BRAC University (I was one of them and particularly responsible for this building from the design phase to construction), University of LINZ, Austria, and Architect Anna Heringer as the project leader.
“The intention was to create an inter-cultural exchange with the expectation that the young architects will be able to carry their knowledge and skills to other regions of Bangladesh and the trained labor will be able to use their skills to build other modern mud houses in the region”-Anna Heringer.
Here, although traditional means of construction and local materials, e.g. mud and bamboo, were used, the conventional techniques were further improved with the combination of modern knowledge. Almost all the works were done by hand without the use of any technical machinery except for the mixing of the earth, water and rice straw mixture for which cows were used. It was observed that the reason for the short lifespan (about 8-10 years) of local buildings was that, usually, they did not have foundations or a damp-proof course. Local earthen construction techniques were improved to provide improved structural stability and protection against rain and rising damp. To help prevent rats and other vermin from nesting in the walls, brickwork masonry foundation, the PE damp proof course, compacting methods, and a Ferro cement technique were used.
The earthen ground floor was made using a technique similar to cob-walling and earth was heaped in layers for wall construction. As each layer dried, the surface of the earthen walls were cut flat with a sharp spade. The walls are left bare on the outside while on the inside they have been plastered with clay plaster and light-colored white mud. The floor is filled with a double layer of straw-earth mixture once the bamboo boards are laid on the central layer. The ceiling consists of a double layer of thick bamboo beams arranged perpendicularly to one another. The skeleton of the roof, made from the bamboo framework is firmly anchored with the wall beneath. Thus, right when the prevailing trend of using energy-intensive and more expensive construction methods, e.g. concrete and masonry, is conquering many parts of the world as well as this region, this method of using locally available materials and techniques remained in strong contrast.
Finally, each of the rooms has its own openings along with ventilators, made from hand-made terracotta. A bamboo-supported staircase has its steps made from wood, mud while a nice sitting place adorns the first floor landing. Protruding out from the upper living room is a mini veranda embellished with beautiful bamboo and wooden works by our local craftsmen. A strip of bamboo screen clads the building’s perimeter which will eventually provide a wide green screen to cover and protect the mud surface against strong rainfall while the corrugated pitch roof rests on top of the mud structure like a hat.
During the whole design and construction process, the involvement of the occupants/owner was so exemplifying that it has set example of how architecture can provide a lasting contribution of local communities in this developing area. The hand-made mud house has given me the opportunity to learn a lot. By taking account of the visual perception of materials, texture, way of using this materials, and use of alternative energy, it is also possible to design a building that captures the local, traditional essence, which is appropriate for our context, while giving a new language with the improved technique to our traditional architecture in terms of environmental sustainability. The purpose of constructing such a building was to strengthen the infrastructure, setting an example of how local skills can be used and therefore showing a promising future for the rural region.
Aga Khan Award, 2007
Curry Stone Design Prize, 2009
Concept/Lead Architect(s)/Designer(s): Anna Heringer
Project Architect(s): Anna Heringer
Year (s): xx to xx
Number of beneficiaries/users: Home-owners and larger community
Project Phase: Completion
Cost/Cost per unit:
Area (if applicable):
Nominated by Imrul Kayes