Bangladesh has a rich riverine delta with readily cultivable crops. People are directly and indirectly involved with agriculture in this lovely region of nature. As a result, the settlement of this region has a particularly distinctive feature. The courtyard is a unique element of traditional Bangladeshi dwellings. Bangladesh’s traditional courtyard homes have long been an essential part of the country’s architectural legacy. These dwellings, which are primarily constructed of bamboo, wood, and mud, have a central courtyard that acts as the home’s center. The courtyard is frequently utilized for a range of activities such as cooking, washing, and socializing.

Courtyard to Living Room: A Huge Transformation of Traditional Space in Bangladesh - Sheet1
Traditional House Courtyard of Bangladesh_©Apurba Buragohain

However, in recent decades, there has been a movement toward changing these traditional courtyards into more modern living areas. Several causes are driving this shift, including the demand for privacy, the necessity for modern living space, and the changing lifestyles of Bangladeshi families. The majority of individuals fled their hometowns and settled in the city. On the other hand, economic growth and urbanization are accelerating across the country.

Courtyards were formerly the major activity zone of traditional residences. The majority of people rely on agricultural goods. Courtyards were utilized at various phases of agricultural processing. In these courtyards, people generally congregate, talk, cook, wash, and spend the majority of their time. The settlement method was distinctive in that dwellings were erected around the courtyard. This settlement design is efficient, contextual, and helpful to the region. However, in these traditional communities, individuals employ vernacular materials that must be maintained regularly. As a result, individuals in Bangladesh are hesitant to create such traditional buildings now. These traditional architectural styles are always being modified and altered today.

Courtyard to Living Room: A Huge Transformation of Traditional Space in Bangladesh - Sheet2
Rural House Courtyard of Bangladesh_©AKDN

Another significant consideration is that the change can keep the house’s traditional architectural elements while updating the area. Some homeowners, for example, prefer to keep the mud and bamboo walls and incorporate them into the new design rather than demolish the entire ancient house. This might result in a distinctive combination of traditional and modern architecture. However, the majority of newly constructed residences are composed of brick and concrete. For routine maintenance, the vernacular materials are neglected. As a result, in rural regions, a hybrid architectural style is being practiced.

On the other hand, one of the possible consequences of this metamorphosis is that it may alter the occupants’ connection with the surrounding community. The open courtyard in traditional courtyard houses acts as a social hub for neighbors and community members to assemble and engage with one another. This social connection may be lost if the courtyard is enclosed.

Courtyard to Living Room: A Huge Transformation of Traditional Space in Bangladesh - Sheet3
Mud House by Studio Anna Heringer_©Studio Anna Heringer

People move to cities to work and live a contemporary lifestyle. However, metropolitan regions have a limited amount of land. People are constructing high-rise skyscrapers and apartment buildings to reside in. These courtyards are no longer essential in today’s world. People work during the day and sleep in these dwellings at night. They mingle and assemble in these apartments’ living rooms. They chat, meet, watch TV, eat, and do a variety of other activities in that place. In this contemporary Bangladesh, the fading courtyards are now used as living rooms. Rapid urbanization will devastate classic courtyard layout dwellings in the foreseeable future. People are adopting contemporary living rooms as the focal point of their homes.

Those magnificent courtyards would be lost to future generations. They will not believe that those courtyards were more thrilling than VR. The major cause of such an unsatisfactory transition is uncontrolled population increase and poor urban planning. In the past, large families lived in a house where courtyards brought them together. Individuals are currently more preoccupied with digital media than with those ties. In this regard, space is critical for both mental and physical growth.

How will we deal with such critical situations in the future? Perhaps architects, engineers, planners, and other professionals can contribute in a significant way to creating settings that are inspired by the past. Proper city planning and rural development must occur in tandem. Courtyards are vital in making a space alive and spontaneous. As a result, traditional courtyards are nearly gone, and we must protect the few that remain. On the other hand, architects and stakeholders should stand alone to safeguard such cultural space. Public and private efforts might be launched to redraw the future spaces of this region. By adopting these measures, we will be able to create distinctive architecture in the near future.

Contemporary Living Room of Kishwar Jahan Residence | Architect Rafiq Azam_©SHATOTTO

Some architects have recently stepped forward to bring back the historical open spaces in our modern building. They attempt to adopt corporate spaces in addition to the usual space attributes used in houses. Even courtyards are changing Bangladesh’s modern architecture. Could we wish to see a more sustainable design in the future? Would upcoming architectural designs bring back traditional spaces?


Buragohain A. (2006). Traditional House Courtyard of Bangladesh. [Photograph]. (Traditional House Courtyard of Bangladesh: )

AKDN. (1984). Rural House Courtyard of Bangladesh. [Photograph]. (Rural House Courtyard of Bangladesh:  

Khan, Shayama. (2021). Spatially Adaptive Courtyard Models for High-Density, Multi-Storied Residential Developments in Bangladesh. (2011). Mud House by Studio Anna Heringer. [Photograph]. (Mud House by Studio Anna Heringer:

DAS, Subrata; RAHMAN, Md Arifur; HOSSAIN, Muhammad Shafayet. Change in Adaptability of Residential Architecture: Spatial Analysis on Traditional and Contemporary Houses of Bangladesh. Journal of Architectural Environment & Structural Engineering Research, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 4, p. 31-47, nov. 2021. ISSN 2630-5232.

SHATOTTO. (2006). Contemporary Living Room of Kishwar Jahan Residence | Architect Rafiq Azam. [Photograph]. (Contemporary Living Room of Bangladesh: )


Muhammad Shafayet Hossain is an architect, artist, designer and researcher who is currently working at MSH Atelier. Remarkably making contemporary ideas and working as an artist in the contemporary art scene in Bangladesh. Also, he is associated with working in Research and related fields of Architecture.