Exploring Bangladeshi Mud Architecture

Posted by on June 29th, 2011

Kar ghor eta? Rahna ghor kothay? Ke ekhane thake?
Whose room is this? Where is the kitchen? Who stays here?


A woman outside of her mud home in one of the villages near the Panigram site.

Over the last couple weeks, we three interns explored a village near the Panigram site to learn about the Bangladeshi homestead. Equipped with an extremely limited Bangla vocabulary and a large supply of sun block, we wandered the meandering paths of the area. How do Bangladeshi’s build? How do local environmental factors influence the homestead? How are public and private spaces maintained? What is the design of a typical village home? The answers to many of our questions have been cultivated though generations of experience in the immediate area and a keen awareness of Bangladeshi climate and culture.

As eager architecture students on a new site, we set out to define the different arrangements of homesteads and the elements which define the spaces. The bari (home) is arranged to ensconce a central courtyard. The space is defined by a series of independent rooms set on plinths (to prevent flooding). Thick mud walls and overhanging terra cotta roofs protect these spaces from the sun. Surrounding foliage and woven bamboo and thatch screens dilute the sun’s impact on the home.

Bangladeshi mud homes are traditionally built on plinths 2-4 feet high to protect the household from the torrential monsoon rains.

Bangladeshi families are not the only inhabitants of these homes. A myriad of goats, hens, cows, dogs, and pigeons also share the space. This large variety of occupants is facilitated by an equally diverse collection of goat sheds, rice storage silos, chicken coops, cow houses, and pigeon cubbies. These additional components are strategically placed to further define the boundary of the homestead and mediate space between neighbors.

With a comprehensive set of maps, plans, sections, and details we aim to incorporate what we have gleaned from our study into a report that the design team can use as they attempt to create a modern interpretation of Bangladeshi vernacular architecture. The village has shown us many of the intricacies of Bangladeshi living and the great variety of architectural pieces it comprises. Our task now is a personal favorite—to interpret our observations and develop them in new ways as we work with the architects to come up with design concepts for the bungalows. The village has really sparked our imagination!


A goat pops his head out of his room. In this structure, the goat house is built just in front of the kitchen; often the goat houses are appended to the side of the kitchen structure.

Most village houses have deep verandas with day beds and chairs on them that the family uses as an outdoor, shaded room.

During the day the verandah is used as a workspace. Women will do embroidery or shuck peas, men will repair fish nets or weave baskets...

This is a Bangladeshi village toilet. Sometimes there will be a brick structure that houses the squat toilet, but often it is just cordoned off with plants, bamboo screens, or (as in this case) a fence made of dried banana leaves.

Rice is stored in these cylindrical huts or silos in the courtyard of the homestead. The silos are raised off of the ground to keep the rice dry. This photo was taken just after the monsoon stopped...

For our report, we selected six adjacent homesteads for a case study. This is how they look in plan. Often the back of one homestead will form the side of another. An extended family was living in this homestead. You can see how each homestead is arranged around a central courtyard; each homestead is linked by charming, narrow pathways between the buildings.

Here are some sections of the homestead. The most important buildings are raised on the highest plinths. Plinth heights will also vary within the compound.

We discovered that there are three main types of Bangladeshi homestead groupings: the "L-Type", the "U-Type", and the "Parallel Type"

3 Responses to “Exploring Bangladeshi Mud Architecture”

  1. [...] near the famous Sundarban mangrove forest to learn about the Bangladeshi mud built homestead. Here is what she found out. [...]

  2. billal says:

    Its really very beautiful !!! thanks

  3. abid says:

    Awesome work……..

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