With this first comprehensive European exhibition the Aedes Architecture Forum presents the work of Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA from Bangladesh, who received the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016 for the Friendship Centre on the flood plains of Gaibandha in northern Bangladesh. With further projects such as the Gulshan Society Mosque in Dhaka and the Cyclone Shelter in Kuakata, he gained widespread international acclaim. Careful arrangement of structures in areas marked by extreme climatic conditions, combined with local building techniques and materials, Kashef Chowdhury’s buildings are exemplary of an architecture that serves society with radical simplicity and poetry. With an atmospheric installation, the exhibition curated by Niklaus Graber and Andreas Ruby, invites visitors on a journey to Bangladesh and the architectural worlds of URBANA.
Bangladesh, which has been stigmatized in many respects as a peripheral region, has hardly been present on the global architectural map. However, this is likely to change in the near future. One reason for this is the architecture of Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA.
At first glance, Kashef Chowdhury’s buildings – such as his stormproof school or island-shaped village near the Bramaputra River – seem to have emerged directly from the local context of Bangladesh, which is one of the most densely populated regions on earth and dominated by extreme tropical climate conditions. At second glance, his architecture spans space and time from east to west, from the past to the present, and has universal appeal thanks to its masterful treatment of light, space and materiality. URBANA’s works are not only spatially and architecturally extraordinary in their immediacy; they also bear witness to the high social relevance of an architecture that thoughtfully and inventively addresses urgent issues such as population density, climate change, migration, and the reactivation of rural potential. Through local action, carefully developed from the history and geography of the world’s largest delta region, URBANA’s work acquires a global significance that moves us closer many themes, which where once thought to be faraway.