Saturday 03 October 2009

The Worst International Competition of the year: Fael Khair Cyclone Shelter Design Competition result amused us!

on Saturday 03 October 2009 - 10:08:36 | by NEO
We are going to talk about one of the worst example of architectural design competitions we ever dealt with. ArchSociety is regularly publishing (officially and unofficially) the news and updates of almost all the important design competitions from around the world. Many of you may have seen the post about the 'Fael Khair School-Cum-Shelter' design competition this year. Which was intended to seek for design solutions to be built in the cyclone prone areas of Bangladesh. ArchSociety unofficially published the news and encouraged the members to participate. And we know many of you participated in it.

This competition from the very beginning was a total mess in organization. None of the standard procedures of running an international competition was followed. They had no website for the competition! There was no way to pull out information other than email! And there was no standard process of registration. There were severe confusions in their literatures (like where to submit the project at the end Dhaka or Jeddah or both!). They had no clear declaration about the jury. They instructed to design in two different ways, on ‘killa’ (raised earthen platform) and on RCC stilts. Why? How do they know so surely that these are the only two options of designing cyclone shelter? If they know so well about the solutions then why to call a competition? Even there was no standard publication of results as we see in case of any other international competitions. They did not publish the details of the winning designs other than just a word file containing names and single images. Even that file may be mistakenly came to ArchSociety desk. They did not send it. 

However this was a competition organized by a reputed organization IDB (Islamic Development Bank) and they have a handsome fund of USD 130 Million for the project! Then why to take the most basic step of the project the architectural competition in such a terribly unprofessional way? We have no clue. From the first day of their press release ArchSociety officially emailed and called their contacts offering absolutely free services to help running the competition and to help in online submission or publications. They showed no interest. The responsible person in Dhaka IDB was almost never ready to cooperate for anything. Anyway they might not give us the chance to help them that's merely their wish.

But after all these if they would have selected some good designs we could forget the messes they did during running the competition. The result becomes the proof of their (organizers and the jury) ignorance about how to professionally run an architectural competition, 'a cyclone shelter' what it should be and what does 21st century architecture means.
Some of the designs might be ugly to look at however might have good design inputs inside, we don't know. And very few of them might have reached the minimum standards of a design of a cyclone shelter cum school at all. They gave an instruction about inserting some Islamic Architectural element in design. An emergency shelter has nothing to do with religious motifs. But looking at the winning designs confuse us about the intension of the jury and the organization whether they really want to help the affected people by providing them good design solutions or they want to entertain themselves with bellow standard architecture containing silly symbolic motifs. Apparently from the images they look like very uncreative, with no proper solution of dealing with cyclone, no indication of alternative energy and water sources, safety, security and other very basic design issues.
Or maybe all the submitted designs were so bad that there was no other way but to select these, in that case we would request them to publish all the submitted designs online. By the way, the winners and others are most welcome to publish the details of their designs in ArchSoceity forum by themselves.
We are sorry to show you these designs of 'cyclone shelters' we found them in their Word file: yes this is the result:

Killa Option Design Winners:

1st Prize 50,000 USD winning design: Designer: Alamgir Hossain (Bangladesh).
Fael Khair School Cyclone Shelter Program winner! Alamgir Hossain
We have to believe this is a cyclone shelter!

2nd Prize 30,000 USD winning design: Designer: Khairul Enam (Bangladesh)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program, 2nd prize, Khairul Enam
This is a cyclone shelter too!

3rd Prize 1500 USD winning design: Designers: Emtiz Zafree, Md. Ahmed Rajeeb, Al Numan Md. Younus, all from Bangladesh
Fael Khair School cum Shelter Program winner 3d prize
This design may work. However we have already seen these type of solutions from long before and very often they also fail to accommodate all the crises people face during cyclone in a changed social and climatic situation.

Stilt Option Design Winners

1st Prize 50,000 USD winning Design: Designers: Mohammad Naimul Ahsan Khan, Farzana Rahman, Md. Saidur Rahman, all from Bangladesh

Fael Khair School cum Shelter Program winner 1st prize stilt option

Looks like a better design in the list. Yet the drawings could say more about the design strategy and confirm how efficient it would be in fighting with several problems of cyclone.

2nd Prize 30,000 USD winning design: Designer: Tanvir Mahmud (Bangladesh)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program winner
From the image it looks like a rest house in an amusement park or forest.

3rd Prize 15,000 USD winning design: Designer: Fahim M. Tonmoy (UK)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program winner
Seems to be another aparently good design. Still a single image doesn't tell us anything about the solutions achieved.

If IDB wants to waste their time and the 130 Million USD in this way then it will be memorable as one of the worst architectural design competitions taken place so far. And in future architects will deny participating in this type of competitions.
Comments are most welcome.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

October 5: World Habitat Day : Planning our urban future: Raise your voice

on Wednesday 30 September 2009 - 09:16:19 | by NEO
World Habitat Day Logo
World habitate Day 2009

Those who are living around the under-developed and the fastest growing cities in the world (Lagos, Dhaka, Mumbai, Manila…) must have already realized by themselves the urgent necessity of action for ‘Habitat for Humanity’. It is now regardless of the economic classes of people in these cities that we are suffering from lack of planned housing and accessibility of basic urban facilities. And we have to take actions NOW.

Otherwise in near future our children will be living in abject unplanned settlements (they are already in!).
According to the United Nations, more than 100 million people in the world today are homeless. Millions more face a severe housing problem living without adequate sanitation, with irregular or no electricity supply and without adequate security. By the year 2030, an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour. (UN-HABITAT: 2005).

And now along with the slogan of the World Habitat Day we also yell to take action to ensure affordable decent housing for everyone. Raising awareness and advocating for change are the first steps toward transforming systems that perpetuate the global plague of poverty housing. World Habitat Day serves as an important reminder that everyone must unite to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent place to call home.

October 5th is the World Habitat Day. Raise your voice to make everyone realize the importance of this issue, help spread information on this severe unaccounted crisis. The economic and population polarization is now concentrated in faster growing poor urban areas. Think about our urban future, raise an awareness among your friends, neighbors and colleagues to take actions for solving the crises.

ArchSociety is planning to initiate an ‘Open Urban Design Think Tank’ project to gather opensource solutions to critical urban crisis around those cities. We will collect information, research and publish the upgradable-solutions for specific cities and crises. Government, policy makers, working organizations and anyone will be free to use those resources for implementation and for further development.
We are now collecting ideas and site specific information of crises to be researched and treated. You are most welcome to share your resources and write your thoughts regarding this project in the forum.

Help make World Habitat Day and Habitat for Humanity of UN a real success for our own sake.

Visit: for more information.

Editing: Mohammad Tauheed, Mehnaz Ahmed

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Environmental and Civic Facility issues: Bangladesh Govt. Revoked five major private housing projects!

on Tuesday 15 September 2009 - 16:15:59 | by NEO
Before the ‘Land Development Rule 2004’ for the developments of private housing and private urban areas in Bangladesh projects were mushrooming in a ridiculous fatal way. Projects like Japan Garden City in Dhaka is one of the major examples of cramped unhealthy development of private housing areas in the city. The Land Development Rule of 2004 and the Building Development Rule 2006-08 are definitely significant milestones on the way of planned urban growth in Bangladesh. Which we hope in a long run will help to develop a healthier and more environment friendly neighborhoods.

The government seems started the great attempt of implementing the rules finally! The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Housing and Public Works revoked the approval of five private housing projects of three firms today in a meeting at the National Parliament Building. The scraped projects are Bashundhara Housing Project (Phase-I) of the East West Property Development, Sharnali Housing Project (Phase-I) of Swadesh Properties, Banasri New Town Housing Project, Pallabi Housing Project (Phase-II) and Rampura Extension Housing Project of the Eastern Housing Limited. City developer RAJUK, under the ministry of housing, said the projects' approvals were scrapped on the firms' failure to meet the pre-conditions for the government nod. The chairman of the committee A B M Fazle Karim Chowdhury said “They have totally failed to meet the conditions. So, the government has cancelled the approval of the five projects”.
Some of the conditions were that the companies would not change the original designs and not obstruct the water outlet in the floodplain, must ensure wide roads and necessary infrastructure and proper drainage facility. The projects also don’t meet the requirements of environment friendliness in many ways.

We already see the severe out comes of unplanned and ill-planned developments in Dhaka. Gridlock traffic jam, water clogging, and lack of wind flow, vegetation, children’s play area and a lot of other very basic civic facilities. Now if we continue to do the same mistakes we are already suffering from then it will be the biggest stupidity in our infrastructure development. We shouldn’t throw our next generations in the terrible urban situations we are already living in. And a greater portion of this responsibility goes to the architects, urban and town planners of the country. Why government has to take these steps now? Why the planners and architects involved in those projects did these (surely intentional) ‘mistakes’? If we continue doing these ‘sins’ we should be sure in near future our children will grow up in abject unhealthy settlements.
ArchSociety News Desk
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