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