Project by Nicolai Larasse from the programme Political Architecture: Critical Sustainability
This project is set in Chittagong, Bangladesh, but its problematics is of a global nature. It addresses questions of gender inequality, cultural barriers and community. To what extent can architecture change or affect social structures?
The site is nestled into a Hindu enclave. A village within the city. One story buildings made of brick, bamboo and CI sheets. The social in Bangladesh is strictly governed by religion and its traditions. These traditions separate men and women in a questionable way, something that also translates into the spatial. Restricting half the population, not only the right to move about, but even the awareness of other ways of life, and the possibility to pursue those.
The project aims at, over time, develop a frame where the gendered vail can be recognized by these lower class women living around the site. Through a series of programmes framing the problem and strengthening the women in their every-day life, they are encouraged to invent how to use the new spaces. The first intervention is of a familiar character, but introduces a new architecture. As the project grows the different interventions tackle key factors for change, like education and community building, while maintaining a unique spatiality to indicate the new point of view on their situation and traditions. Making aware of a choice.
The ability for a women to take ownership of space, despite her inferior position in society, has been a driving scale and form factor. The niche is easy inhabitable by one or two, creating safety outside of the known territory. The bench, a social furniture, and the niche creates a fundamental element negotiating with the roof structure in all interventions.