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Vernacular architecture for Bangladesh institute

Germany-based Anna Heringer has designed the Modern Education and Training Institute in Bangladesh, which is to construct a school that reflects the  emphasis on developing the students’ potential creatively and responsibly. It strives to improve existing building techniques and contribute to sustainability by utilizing the local potential and strengthening regional identity.

Most vernacular architecture in Bangladesh uses earth and bamboo as the primary building materials; however, there are erroneous construction techniques such as a lack of foundation and damp-proof coursing in the buildings. The project aimed at improving the quality of life in rural areas and to counteract the continuing migration to the cities. It also prioritizes low labor costs and locally-available resources such as earth and bamboo. Traditional building techniques were developed and passed onto the local tradesmen, thus transforming the process.

The building rests on a 50-cm deep brick masonry foundation rendered with facing cement plaster, along with a damp-proof course, which is a double layer of locally-available PE (polyethylene) film. On the ground floor, the load-bearing walls are constructed using straw earth mixture heaped onto the foundation wall to a height of 65 cm. per layer. After the fourth layer, a ring beam made of thick bamboo canes is integrated into the ceiling as a wall plate.

A triple layer of bamboo canes is used for the ceiling of the ground floor, with the central layer arranged perpendicular to the layer above and beneath for lateral stabilization and connection between the supporting beams. A layer of planking made of split bamboo canes is laid out on the central layer and filled with the earthen mixture as traditionally used in European timber-framed ceilings. Three classrooms constructed with thick earthen walls, are located on the ground floor, each with access to an organic ‘cave system’ at the back. The soft interiors of these spaces were designed for exploration or concentration, individually or in a group. The upper story is a frame construction of four-layered bamboo beams arranged at right angles to the building. The end of the frames at the short ends of the buildings and the stairs strengthen the building, which is further connected by additional structural members and wind bracing on the upper surface of the frame.

A series of bamboo rafters at intervals of the frame construction, provide support for the corrugated iron roof and are covered with timber paneling and adjusted in height for sufficient run-off. It is light and open, with openings in the bamboo walls that offer sweeping views of the treetops and village pond. The large interior space enables free movement, while light and shadows from the bamboo contrast with the colorful saris on the ceiling.