Razia Alam is a symbol of hope and strength for the people of South Kanarchor, Savar. After four decades of teaching in the United Kingdom, she returned to Bangladesh and established the Arcadia Education Project for underprivileged children, using all her pension funds and savings.
Arcadia Education Project in South Kanarchor is one of the six winning projects of the 2019 Aga Khan Award.
Razia wanted a suitable place for school with a playground for the children, not just a high rise building. On top of that, her restricted budget made her choose a place at the river bank – not suitable for development though. "There is hardly any school in Dhaka with playground and in which sunlight enters. I wanted a space that is natural and suitable for children to enjoy their childhood and thereby study", shares Razia.
At the time when Razia find out this plot at the river bank, she purchased it and Architect Saif Ul Haque Sthapati turned it into a place that is cherished by children and their parents.
Rather than creating a barrier in the ecosystem, Razia decides to create an amphibious structure. Arcadia Education Project is her dream come true project. "The ambiance around this structure changes according to seasons. The joy of enjoying the beauty of monsoon, summer, and winter is absolute from the veranda of the school. And such seasonal changes are hard to experience from a high rise school building," says Razia.
Built out of three types of bamboo collected from the neighborhood, and 30-gallon steel drums kept the bamboos afloat. Three multipurpose spaces are used mainly as classrooms, office, toilet/bathroom structure, playground and water tank structures – all these spaces are interconnected through a long corridor.