“Politics Is Architecture, And Architecture Is Politics.” Mitch Kapor

Architecture is the art and science of the building and construction of a building. The art of architecture can help reveal a society’s power struggles, cultural elements and hopes. The cultural and social practices and traditions of society can be visualised by architecture through the creation of systems. Architecture can be used to represent a nation or an institution, creating a visual image of power, sacredness, strength, and protection. Axial architecture is a type of architecture in which the parts of a building are organised along an axis and is used often in monumental architecture. This directs the people to the symbol of power as they relate to high powers which dominate a community.

Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban by Louis Kahn: Architecture of the Nation - Sheet1
Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban ©Pinu Rahman

Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban is a prominent building located in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The building was designed by Louis Kahn, and it houses the Bangladesh parliament. The project covers an area of eight hundred and ten thousand square metres, making it one of the biggest legislative complexes in Asia. The construction of this complex was at the cost of thirty-two million dollars. The legislative complex was designed and built with a modern style of architecture. The building was made to express the Bangladeshi culture and heritage. The building is a recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1989). The building construction started in 1961 and was stopped in 1971 due to the Bangladesh Liberation War. The building was later completed and opened in 1982. The building possesses a legislative seating capacity of 350.

Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban by Louis Kahn: Architecture of the Nation - Sheet2
Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban ©Nahid Sultan & Saiful Aopu

Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban used axial architecture which symbolizes power which controls a society. The National Assembly was also designed to show the heritage and culture of Bengali while optimizing space use. The building’s visual impact is shaped by the recessing of external lines of portions, with the exterior having huge openings of regular geometric shapes. The lake on the site also portrays Bangladesh’s riverine beauty and adds to the site’s aesthetics. The building is made up of nine individual blocks, eight of these peripheries rise 33.5 metres in height while the octagonal block located at the centre rises to 47.2 metres. The assembly chamber is located on the central block, and it has a capacity of 354 seats. The environment and climate were put into consideration during design, huge geometric openings were placed on the outer facade to allow free circulation of air. The windows were not placed on the exterior, and core walls have small gaps in between to remove the disadvantages of monumental composition.

Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban by Louis Kahn: Architecture of the Nation - Sheet3
Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban ©Kibria Babu

The Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban was originally planned to be built in 1959 as the second seat of the then National Assembly of Pakistan. The construction was later continued by the Bangladesh government in 1974 using the original plan by Architect Louis Kahn. The building complex includes the president’s house, supreme court, hospitality halls, members of parliament, secretaries, and ministers’ hostel and the national parliament of Bangladesh. The building is the seat of power in Bangladesh. The building impacts all spheres of Bengal life including lifestyle, heritage, and culture. Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban creates monumentality through the mass of concrete lined with marble strips. The building presents a supreme monumentality through pure geometrical openings and dominating rectangular and circular concrete masses, which makes it suited for noble functions. The building includes a seven-storied high ambulatory which surrounds the assembly hall, looking like a path around a deity. The cost of the building was also a major criticism, with the construction and maintenance costs being considered too exorbitant. The maintenance cost per year is five hundred and ninety thousand dollars. The building is made up of fifty staircases, one thousand six hundred and thirty-five doors and three hundred and forty toilets. They also included three hundred partitions, three hundred and thirty-five windows, 3780.3 cm³ wooden panels, 3330.6 sqm glass shutter and 5434.8 sqm wooden shutter in the building.

Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban by Louis Kahn: Architecture of the Nation - Sheet4
Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban ©Arnout Fonck

The building is the symbol of democracy in Bangladesh, and it sets a tranquil surrounding in the bustling Bangladesh capital city. The building is also an architectural marvel and masterpiece, surrounded by landscaped gardens and water. The building is a symbolic monument to the government of Bangladesh. The National Assembly building is a modern building with the identity of Bengali Architecture, making it a Vernacular structure. The building is modernist in its building principle, but it is deeply rooted in the context of Bengali. Jatiyo Sangshad sits in the Bengali desert, with eight halls concentrically associated around the parliamentary grand chamber. The design incorporated simple local materials that are readily available and implemented in a distinct, similar way to protect against the harsh desert climate of the site. The entire complex is made from the pouring of concrete inlaid with white marble. The mass of this building and the artificial lake surrounding the building creates a cooling system and a natural insulator, which also makes an interesting lighting and spatial condition. The Sher-e-Bangla is bounded by Manik Mia Avenue and Mirpur Road to the South and West respectively and Lake Road and Rokeya Road to the North and East respectively. The building has been used for seven parliaments, from the second parliament (2 April 1979) to the eighth parliament (27 October 2006). The building has also been used for the current parliament led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The building was proposed by Ayub Khan as part of ways to decrease the inequality leading to secessionist tendencies in East Pakistan. Khan hoped to make Dhaka an additional capital, with the suitable facilities for an assembly. The building ultimately became the assembly for a new nation as Bangladesh became a sovereign state after the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

References

  1. Jatiya sangsad bhaban (no date) Banglapedia.org. Available at: https://en.banglapedia.org/index.php/Jatiya_Sangsad_Bhaban (Accessed: June 23, 2022).
  2. Souza, E. (2010) AD classics: National assembly building of Bangladesh / Louis Kahn, ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/83071/ad-classics-national-assembly-building-of-bangladesh-louis-kahn (Accessed: June 23, 2022).
  3. The grand architecture of Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban (2008) Bangladesh.com. Available at: https://www.bangladesh.com/blog/the-grand-architecture-of-jatiyo-sangsad-bhaban/ (Accessed: June 23, 2022).
  4. Wikipedia’s contributors (2022) Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jatiya_Sangsad_Bhaban&oldid=1093517874.
  5. (No date) Architectuul.com. Available at: https://architectuul.com/architecture/national-assembly-building-of-bangladesh (Accessed: June 23, 2022).
Author

Chukwuebuka is an architecture student and an amateur writer using his skills to express his ideas to the world. He has written a few articles for DAPC Uniben and he is adventuring to become a popular writer.

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