FeatureMY INTERIOR LIFE

A Rustic Retreat – Escape Den

Written by Naila Binte Zakaria

The ideal approach to a vacation house design is to make your home away from home feel comfortable, practical with a livable atmosphere. For the fashion entrepreneur Tanjim Haque and Asma Sultana, their dream retreat house is the perfect blend of form and space, oozing out with sophistication. Taking on a bold move with shipping container architecture, Ar. Kazi Fida Islam and his River & Rain team have succeeded in creating a tranquil setting on the outskirts of the city.

The creative couple embarked on their journey in the industry in 1997 with the aspiration to change the fashion scene of Bangladesh and promote it on a global scale.

Their fashion brand Ecstasy proliferated gradually, now being one of the leading names in the fashion industry of the country with multiple labels under its wing. The couple being risk-taker by nature always loves to explore the extraordinary. “You could say we are allergic to the ordinary!” Tanjim Haque laughingly exclaims. “Anything we do, be it designing clothes, business cards or home decor, it must have a bespoke touch to it. It was no different when it came to our vacation house”, he adds. Architect Kazi Fida is recognized for exceptional design ideas and thus, the couple commissioned him to create their ‘hymn of solitary’. After the site inspection, the design team realized that the ground would not be able to withstand the weight of a building. As a result, they had to think of a lightweight structure that would require less piling or footing. Thus came the idea of shipping container structure.

“Apart from the structural execution, the complex procedure of transforming a shipping container in a cozy home was a substantial design constrain. The non-enchanting look of hard core containers needed to be converted into a comfortable and visually pleasing built form. The scale of individual container has been schemed in a way that both internal and external space dialogues with it. The exposed steel structures thus create a harmonious effect.” explains Architect Fida.

“A typical weekend is spent here by de-stressing after a hectic week at work. We often play tennis in the court or just sit in the gazebo sipping coffee and catching up while our children run around and play in the lawn.” -Asma Sultana

Openness in each room is achieved by using floor to ceiling glass windows through which one can enjoy natural light and the breathtaking panorama of the outskirts.

 

The three-storied structure is now a hidden gem nestled in a quiet, green oasis, embracing its lush surroundings. Tanjim Haque and Asma Sultana consider this to be their temporary home, where they visit during weekends to spend time with friends and family, host guests or simply unwind amidst the nature. “A typical weekend is spent here by de-stressing after a hectic week at work. We often play tennis in the court or just sit in the gazebo sipping coffee and catching up while our children run around and play in the lawn”, says Asma Sultana. “The best thing about this place is that it has a weekend getaway feel within the city limits. It only takes a 30 min drive from home”, she adds. The steel frame skeleton transformed four pieces of shipping containers into a light-filled, three-storied house, spanning over an expanse of 134 sq meters approx. Upon entrance, one can sense a calm aura and gaze upon the harmony created between the greenery and the large open spaces within the structure. The rustic romanticism the place exudes is impeccably out of the world, rarely a view to be experienced in a concrete jungle like Dhaka. Completed within 7 months, the cargotecture structure does not hide its shipping container roots yet manages to make it look unintimidating and livable.

In terms of materials, the most off track one was perhaps the container itself. The walls, floors and stairs were made from abandoned wooden decks used in ships, contributing to the sustainable approach of the design. The architects wanted to preserve the rustic feel of the materials rather than concealing the stories each container had from the travels by sea. The structure is spread out across three floors, where the open kitchen, dining space and small seating area are set on the elevated ground floor. A flight of stairs traverses the central atrium space where almond tree and green creepers hang from the ceiling and connects to the glass enclosed living room. Another flight of stairs leads to the third floor comprising of two bedrooms, above which a green roof has been built. One of the bedrooms is also connected to an outdoor terrace. The ground floor houses a garage consisting of custom bikes of Tanjim Haque. The caretaker’s room is located in the back. Careful consideration was given to the landscaping by the owners who introduced a myriad of plants and trees such as bonsai trees, bougainvillea trees, cherry trees, bamboo trees, creepers etc. The plot is enclosed by bamboo trees, large creepers and birds of paradise plants, creating a marvelous backdrop.

Completed within 7 months, the cargotecture structure does not hide its shipping container roots yet manages to make it look unintimidating and livable.

The interior design of the house stays true to the theme of tranquility. Openness in each room is achieved by using floor to ceiling glass windows through which one can enjoy natural light and the breathtaking panorama of the outskirts.

While most furniture has a neutral palette, the lounge area on the 2nd floor was given splashes of vivid colours to create a lively atmosphere, ideal for sitting and spending time with friends and family to chat, play games and catch up.

The two bedrooms on the top floor are kept minimal so that the spectacular view through the windows can be enjoyed fully. The beds and furnishings are carefully positioned so that no matter where you look, you can either view the lawn on the infinite sky.

All the furnishings are designer pieces, carefully curated by Tanjim Haque. As for the illumination, theme based lighting was installed with abundance of candles and lanterns to light up after the sunset.

Every corner of Escape Den is close to the owners’ hearts as the serene environment provides them the perfect hide out from every day hustle-bustle of the busy urban life.

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