Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1967-70
Muzharul Islam started work on the master plan of Jahangirnagar University in 1967. He continued to work in this project till 1970 at which point the major portion of the master plan still remains unrealized. This wonderful master-plan which was a strong composition of angular lines and tilted squares was a masterful display of man made order in a continuous harmony with the site as his geometric layout left the vast water body on the site undisrupted and found a natural dialogue with it and the existing trees of this sprawling site. Muzharul Islam’s sensitivity towards site it’s trees and natural conditions and how to overlay a geometric order on it that would not disrupt it but rather enhance, it is a unique creative capability of his own.
The clustered red brick masses with their wonderful brick details, their interplay with the lash green foliages, the wonderful internal courts all create a complementary dialogue of built form and nature. In the book ‘An Architecure of Indepandence the Making of Modern South Asia’ Kazi Khaleed Ashraf describes the Jahangir Nagar University master plan as in the following:
- “The site plan, which sought to retain the natural condition of the site as much as possible, places administrative and teaching buildings in the center, with student dormitories located at one end and faculty and staff residence at the other. The tilted square motif emerged out of the dual considerations of using the building volumes to create spatial enclosures, and of giving each building the same degree of sun exposure and natural ventilation. The plan also acknowledged that the campus would be built gradually. A large part of Islam’s original plan remains unrealized.
The plans for both Jahangirnagar University and Joypurhat Housing reflect Islam’s effort to propose an alternative city, to move away from the conventional morphology of city and country. Islam believes the distinction between the two reflects a social disparity that should not be perpetuated. At the same time he proposes that traditional climatic-environmental responses should be joined with the new world of science of technology. Although both the Jahangirnagar and Joypurhat plans incorporate a certain sense of collectivity and “urban” order through the formation of communal spatial enclosures, continuous facades, and some sort of street, they also respond to the essence of dwelling in the hot-humid delta; the buildings are arrayed in the geometric plan to be receptacles for “light, green and air”.
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