Project name: Rokia Afzal Vacation House
Client: Rokia Afzal Rahman
Location: Mouchak, Gazipur
Design Team: Md. Rafiq Azam, Audhora Sharmin, Nilufar Yeasmin
Project Engineer: Md. Akter Hossain
Structural Engineer: Md. Akter Hossain
Landscape Design: Rafiq Azam
Design Period: 2013- ongoing
Nestled amongst the green lands in Gazipur, a suburb approximately forty kilometres from the capital city of Dhaka, this vacation home for Ms. Rokia Afzal by Shatotto is situated on a plot of 160,594 square meters. The design of this project has been influenced by the key aim of Shatotto, to reduce the chasm between architectural values and the ongoing predicament of responsible architecture. By doing so, the multiple award-winning design practice also intends to create a healthy conversation between the three pillars of our society; the people, communities and nature.
Proposed View of the House
One of the challenges while designing this project was to select an apt location on the site to construct this 465 square metre house. On studying the site, it was decided that the structure was to be built at a location where the car drop can take place and the walking distance between the car drop area and the house is not more than 10-15 minutes.The following maxim formed the core of the design philosophy for the project:
“a house facing south is the best,
one that facing north is worst;
having a duck pond in the east is wise, and
a bamboo grove in the west is advised.”
The traditional folklore of Bangladesh considers the earth as Mother. This belief paved the way for the design of the house, as the building has been lifted off the ground, with only minimal structural contact, depicting Glen Murcutt’s adage- “touch the earth lightly”. The idea is to “let water flow, let wind blow, let the firefly glow, let the grass grow….”
The client wanted a small and simple vacation house, where she could spend quality time with her family. A respite from the hubbub of the metro, this four bedroom vacation home is a gate-away space for Ms Rokia Afzal and her family that lets them enjoy the soothing and undisturbed landscape of the suburbs. The clients were averse to the idea of an enormous structure and wanted a simple and trivial abode. In accordance to their needs, a four bedrooms, small and single storied home was designed in this serene location, as the family has four children.
Ar. Rafiq Azam’s own aesthetic philosophy is to collaborate with the local realities, instead of competing with them. In response to the acute scarcity of timber and material sustainability in the hot and humid climate, concrete frames were used as structural elements and handmade terracotta exposed brick was used as infill. This exposed R.C.C framework, a common design element, also responds to the seismic condition of the area.
Inspired by the natural phenomenon of feathering, the architect has designed a thin lightweight roof for the home. Just like a leaf being the feathered entity of the tree, or a hair being that of the human body, the gradually cantilevered concrete roof has been feathered by giving it a glass edging, making it symbolic of a complete disappearance from the surrounding nature.
As an architect, Md. Rafiq Azam is trying to extend the role of architecture to the bigger picture, that of realizing its responsibilities towards its communities and their surroundings. His practice’s ‘green thinking’ portrays the imperative relationship between artistic autonomy and social engagement. Keeping in line with this belief, the architect has used environmentally sustainable materials like brick, concrete, wood and marble.
The bedroom block in the house faces the south, while the family room faces the southwest connecting the pond with traditional ghatla (steps in the water). The foyer, traditionally known as ‘daowa’, is placed in a way that it creates a courtyard between the bedroom block and the entrance area, with the olive tree in the centre. The kitchen and the breakfast area are placed further north, facing the east, so as to welcome the dawn light and the tranquil view of the waters in the morning.
Architect’s Impression of the Design Concept
Ar. Rafiq Azam is a painter by conviction and an architect by profession. Painting since the young age of seven, he began pouring plenty of water, green and light in his watercolors, an indulgence that became one with his life; that has today shaped his design philosophy. Graduating from the Architecture Dept. of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), he was satisfied knowing that this profession would let him follow his passion of painting. While studying, he was faced with bad grades, although this process of learning made him realize that architecture is more intricate than he had imagined and the unfathomable passion and commitment that it called for.
With the Rokia Afzal Vacation Home, his design practice, Shatotto, aims to help in its attempt to bridge the local culture and its impact with international architectural practices. Also, with its modern minimalism and environmentally sustainable design, the practice intends to connect the gaps between the urban and rural culture of the country. Shatotto’s green philosophy also nurtures an obstinate but calm optimism that strives to turn the negatives into positives.
Ground Floor Plan
– Tanvi Naik ,Volume Zero.