In a jungle of monotonus, boxlike buildings, hard to distinguish one from the other, a high structure near the west bank of Hatirjheel lake in the city will catch anybody’s eyes. A futuristic architecture emerging out of an array of low roofed buildings, it’s an imposing, impressive, jaw-dropping and rare fit of work – rare because it’s a public building, housing an office that is seldom expected to care for aesthetics.
The most spectacular thing about the structure is a long-stretching curvy roof slowly stooping up to 46.5 meters - a shape that gives the impression of a highway approaching a high-up bridge.
The glaring glass walls play with the changing light of the Dhaka sky with reflections of the lake.
A contrast with the crowd of low-rise and tin-roofed houses, the under-construction headquarters of the Roads and Highways Department is unique and thematic.
This ‘Y’ shaped establishment has three parts–one is 12-storey compound at the south-west direction while an eight-storey wing at the north-east flanked by another six-storey stretch at the north-west direction. Its central lobby connects all three parts.
The building’s southern end is monumental with its peak. It showcases the building’s strength and upward movement. Both the eastern and western ends slide to the ground, offering a vertical view of green fields. The central lobby contains no structure in between first and third floors, copying an open space between two piers of a bridge.
“This is a composite structure. The three compounds are of reinforced cement concretes while the central lobby is built of steel,” Abdul Ahad, the assistant director of the construction project, tells The Business Standard.
The RHD headquarters will be a role model for modern era which contains all the artistic amenities and latest facilities.
The building will house 295 office rooms, an 800-seat auditorium, library and archive, day-care centre, garden, public plaza and audio-visual hall and a number of low-capacity halls for conference and seminar. It has also parking spaces for at least 200 cars.
“The gentle breeze coming from the south keeps the building always cool. The double-layered façade tempered glasses provides the building with passive thermal protection. This is one of the creative architectural works in our country designed by architect Masum Iqbal,” Ahad says.
Designed as a landmark, the new headquarter of the RHD is a result of its displacement from the older one, a shapeless unimpressive mass of brick and concrete, which it had to leave after Supreme Court took the land area back and re-annexed it.
Ahad recalls, “All the RHD officials working at their former headquarters in Ramna had to abruptly vacate the space adjoining Supreme Court following a one-day notice. As we were scattered, coordination among us badly hampered”.
That time, the Asian Development Bank was financing the RHD for the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Connectivity Project. As RHD was dislodged, ADB agreed to finance construction of RHD headquarters as institutional development component.
A 16.98-acre land in Tejgaon, adjacent to Hatirjheel, was housing equipment and control division, mechanical workshop division and security division of RHD. The government then planned to utilise the land for building the multi-storey RHD headquarters to accommodate optimum number of RHD components in one place.
In 2013, RHD called for architectural designs. Total eight architectural and engineering firms had submitted their proposals. Of them, a joint venture of Development Design Consultants Limited and Vernacular JV was awarded the designing and consultancy job.
After completion of all ground works and necessary clearances from the authorities concerned, a construction deal was signed on June 28, 2015.
The Tk 195.34 crore building was scheduled to be opened by June 2018, which the project official Ahad is hopeful to complete this year.