The evolution of the traditional houses throughout history has been a response to factors such as geography, climate, socio-cultural aspects, craftsmanship and materials. In that essence, rural architecture has remained unchanged, showing genuine sensitivity to nature and its elements, and has survived the passage of time.
The project 'Amber Denim Loom shed' was inspired from these traditional houses in Bangladesh sheltering ordinary people, built by those with no architectural training but who are more concerned with fulfilling their needs and what is suitable in the climate.
Placed within a natural setting and located at the Amber Denim Factory premise in Gazipur, the 'loom shed' has a simple layout, comprising a large open space to accommodate the loom machines, a buyers' lounge, a dining space for workers, a prayer area and washrooms.
The project represents traditional Bangladeshi residential architecture, but uses contemporary elements to give it a modern touch.
Amber Denims Ltd is one of the largest exporters of denim in the country. The Loom Shed was set up to accommodate specialised work loomwork that is often required for certain international orders the Amber factories receive. There are around 40-50 weavers working on 20 machines in the shed.
The design, by Md Jubair Hasan of Archeground, takes its inspiration from a traditional Bengali pavilion - a simple post-and-beam structure with pitched roof that can be found in villages all around Bangladesh.
The design was inspired from the inherent characteristics of land and waterscape of rural Bangladesh, where land and water is coherent. Local bamboos are planted alongside the entries to create an inviting green buffer space.
The lily pond and the vegetation around the loom create a sense of place in its truest form.
"The sense of belonging is addressed keeping in mind the characteristics of tradition and culture," said Jubair, adding, "Shading is an important issue in Bangladeshi traditional architecture. Traditional form of roofing, known as 'Do-Chala, is interpreted here with simplicity and originality, using handmade roof tali (CC Block)."
Architect Jubair, who had worked on several projects for Amber Group prior to working on this building. After working on another project for the client, he was appointed as the architect of this building in 2013.
It took him and the design team - having architect Lutfullahil Majid, architect Nabi Newaz Khan, architect Ahmed Faisal, Md. Abdur Rakib Rhine and structural designer engineer Saiful Bari - five months to design the building. Later that year, in September 2013, the construction process by Amber Construction Team began, and it was completed in January 2015.
Working with the factory workers, the architect led the process of building the shed/pavilion using three main materials: unused gas pipes that were already owned by the client as the main structure of this building; local bamboo for walls; and custom-made concrete roof tiles.
As for running expenses, the introduction of a water body, bamboo screen, high ceiling and other vernacular elements substantially reduced electricity costs by eliminating the need for air conditioning and artificial lighting and making the space cool and comfortable to work in.
The high ceiling, bamboo screen-walls and open space design allow natural light and ventilation, thereby eliminating the need for artificial air-conditioning or lighting.
Most of the materials used here are very nature durable: concrete walls and roofing blocks, bamboo for screen and wall and neat cement finished floors. These are used in such ways and places that allow them to show their wear and provide easy repair and replacement.
This project is an attempt to achieve and address the contemporary idea of traditional Modernism, following basic vernacular principles in design, using locally available materials, both natural and crafted, with modern amenities inside.
The building is a single mass, a rectangular structure covering the Site Area of 1830 m² and the built-up area of 1068 m². The whole footprint of the building measures 80 metres long and 30 metres wide.
The site that was initially presented to the architect for this building was actually around 10,000 square metres. It is an empty plot located in the middle of the factory compound, next to another facility and the workers' compound.
The architect decided to make a setback from the nearest logistical circulation route, creating an open space that can be used for outdoor activities. All the active areas are placed in the middle of the building, leaving two wings for circulation. The main working zone, which covers most of the interior, has no wall divisions. Only washrooms and storage areas have solid walls. Partitions for other areas are made of bamboo, similar to the building's exterior walls.
There is no superimposed decoration in the building, but shadows created by the sun penetrating the bamboo walls, and also water reflections in the ceiling, give a natural ornamental sense that creates different atmospheres in the building.
The water body around the building was added as a way to create boundaries and to maintain humidity inside the building to a certain level, so that the yarns in the looming machines maintain flexibility.
The main structure of the building is metal post-and-beam, with pitched roof, employing 10-inch diameter of gas pipes that the company had previously bought from China but had not used. Since the length of a single pipe is 40 feet (12 metres), the architect thought there was enough length and strength for this pipe to serve as the building's main structure.
"The roof covering is of custom-made concrete roof tiles, produced on site. Fewer and fewer buildings in Bangladesh use roof tiles, and the technique of making them is slowly disappearing," said architect Hasan, who saw it as part of his obligation to maintain the presence of this material, which is why he used roof tiles for this building.
Architect Jubair Hasan mentioned the special features of the project: Side-by-side existence of natural elements and people; self-sustained, naturally ventilated; water body as threshold to create a buffer for the loom shed from the surrounding, and the bamboo screen of the loom shed to create a sense of crafted modernism in style.
Walls are made of local bamboo that is treated with chemical solution, oil and local sand to give a dark and coarse finish. The floor is casted in concrete with a cement finish.
Even though the inspiration of the structure comes from traditional Bengali pavilions, the construction technology used in this building is a relatively modern welded steel structure, concrete/cement-based materials, and bamboo with chemical treatment.
The total cost of the building was one crore and twenty lakhs. The maintenance costs for the building are almost zero, especially for no mechanical air conditioning system, because of its semi-open design. The materials used are highly durable, so there is very little need to replace them.
The project has so far bagged many awards including the 26th Architecture of the Year Award by JK Cement, India in 2017; ARCASIA Award for Architecture (AAA) in 2017); American Architecture Prize (AAP) in 2016; IAB Design Award in 2016; Berger Award for Excellence in Architecture in 2015 and 2A Asia Architecture Awards, Istanbul in 2015.