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Guest Blog: Ecotourism at Panigram Provides a New Perspective on Bangladesh

Posted by on September 25th, 2013

Panigram Apprenticeship Experience guest and Dhaka Tribune reporter Sheikh Mohammad Irfan observes the introduction of eco-friendly tourism in Bangladesh, exemplified by Panigram Resort.


When someone hears the word “Bangladesh,” the first thing that usually comes to mind is Dhaka city, notorious for its congestion, pollution, and impoverished population. But what if all that could change?

Excluding its capital city, Bangladesh is somewhat of an untapped treasure, hidden from global attention and enjoyed only by the locals. From the mystical forests of the Sunderbans to the breathtaking tea gardens of Sylhet to the beaches of Cox’s Bazaar, the natural beauty of the country is mostly admired by Bangladeshis escaping the noise and bustle of the city. Those tourists who do visit mostly stay in commercial hotels and rarely get a fully authentic experience of Bangladeshi culture.

Scenic view along Panigram's vangari village tour route.

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Guest Blog: The “Real” Bangladesh

Posted by on July 4th, 2013

Paola Fornari Hanna, a professional linguist, writer, and trainer and wife of the European Union Ambassador in Bangladesh, recently participated in the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience with her sister, Silvia. She enjoyed her stay so much that she was inspired to write a blog entry for us; we are very happy to publish it!

The Real Bangladesh

Recently my sister Silvia, who lives in Houston, Texas, came to stay. She was our very first visitor in two and a half years in Bangladesh, and was as determined to see, feel and breathe as much of the real Bangladesh as I was to show her.

I had read about the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience, and it seemed to be exactly what we were looking for, so we signed up.  And for three days and two nights, it was one exciting sensory experience after another. Like blissful children, we got filthy mixing mud (and learnt to add jute to strengthen it for fixing cracks).

Mixing Mud Mortar

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Making It Happen

Posted by on June 21st, 2012

Workers preparing the thatch roof

With construction well on its way, the resort is taking shape. It’s an exciting time to see how the plans and designs on paper are now transformed into physical buildings. The foundations have been poured and structural elements are in place. We’re also experimenting on finishes and materials on prototype buildings to enhance the feel of the resort. It takes time, but it’s a process that we know will achieve amazing results. There are over 200 workers from the local area working to make this resort a retreat in paradise. For more photos, visit us on Facebook at


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. Read the rest of this entry »


Mud and Mangoes

Posted by on June 24th, 2011

Now, after almost two weeks of settling into our humble abode in Jessore, we interns, have become quite adjusted to our new lifestyle abroad.  We eat our egg and ruti in the morning before our hour-long autorickshaw ride to the project site; a ride which often makes me think of getting pulled down bumpy sidewalks as a child in my little red metal wagon.  Here, though, the sidewalk is eight feet wider and trucks stacked twenty feet high with local goods like hay, bricks, or goats (though not usually all three together…) fight at top speeds for the extra sliver of road beside me.

Millie waits for our driver Rafik in the autorickshaw.

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Summer Interns Are Here Again!

Posted by on June 13th, 2011

This is the third summer now that I have been fortunate enough to have interns. This year I have two Cornellians and a student from the University of Edinburgh, all architecture students keen to learn about mud buildings.

The interns spent their first night at my house in Dhaka. I immediately put them to work on an arts and crafts project, but jet lag caught up with them and craft time soon turned into nap time.

Jet lag catches up with the interns as craft time turns into nap time...

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Taking Tea with Chi Chi: How to Motivate People and Win Friends in Bangladesh

Posted by on August 3rd, 2009
Chi Chi Stands with her capentry team

Chi Chi stands with her carpentry team

No construction project every progresses according to plan; Bangladesh is no exception. Workers show up hours late, materials arrive of the wrong specifications, and the weather doesn’t always cooperate. As the architecture intern for Panigram, Chi Chi knows first hand the difficulties that arise during construction projects in Bangladesh.

Rising every morning at six A.M., Chi Chi faced the challenge of working with unfamiliar building materials, supervising her first construction project, and leading a construction team as a female in a male-dominated culture. Last night, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chi Chi and discuss the details of her pavilion project. We talked about her design, her team, and how she managed to overcome the many difficulties that arose while building the pavilion.

BRIAN: This is your first project, Chi Chi. Can you describe the challenges that you faced as a young architect working with an international crew?

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