The project ‘Mirza Bari’ is located in a suburban region of Madarganj, Jamalpur. The locale has been grasped by the unscrupulous rapid urbanization where individuals construct structures mostly without the assistance of any architect. The rapid template construction mechanism reached the site without acknowledging the basic climatic considerations. Mirza Ripan, as the heir to his parent’s home and one of eight siblings, sought to expand his portion to mitigate the scarcity of space for his next generation and hired a local mason to construct the extended portion and erected a few beams, columns, and slabs. Eventually, he realized that he was unable to make it functional properly and was unsure whether he should dismantle the entire structure in order to achieve adequate natural light and ventilation. He later, handed over the project to architecture firm Plural Works to refurbish and retrofit the project.
“When the client came to us, he wanted the project to be finished within eight months. We made a few methodological decisions to complete the retrofitting work, exterior outlook, and interior refurbishment while keeping the short time span in mind”, shares S M Rumman Mashrur Chowdhury, Founding Partner Architect of Plural Works. “We found that the old structure which was prevalent earlier, should not be touched unless mandatory, otherwise there was a high risk for the structure to collapse, and the additional portion was designed using the template method, which the masons use in every typical architecture of the suburban area- keeping all the openings very little with no shading and no appropriate balcony to maintain the outdoor-indoor relationship and leaving no scope to enjoy the monsoon.” The design team introduced plinths that connect the ground with the building and extended retrofitted slabs on the west and south, considering the essential climatic considerations of the sun, wind, and rain of our region. The extended shades act as verandas that adapt to the ever-changing monsoon climate. They provided large openings on the south and west – the only two ways to accommodate the proper lighting and ventilation in the house’s double-height living room, dining room, and family space. As the client had already erected the washrooms on the north side, and on the east there was a building extremely adjacent to it, the design team directed them to keep the rest space on the north to use as the back verandas and also used frosted glass as the partition materials for doors and windows from the circulation cum family area in order to let the light and wind from the south and west enter the two bedrooms. Then they converted the extended slabs on the west and south into usable large common shaded verandas with a scope of plantations, where the buildings and their inhabitants come alive both in the sun and in the rain.
The sound of the raindrops that are enjoyed from the veranda with the smell of petrichor is like a symphony, a haunting melody that lingers long after the storm has passed.
“For the exterior, we decided to use low-maintenance materials and attempted to experiment with the modular nature of the bricks. We intended to devise a blend of ancient classical style with a touch of contemporary design to give the client the feeling of living in his ancestor’s home. We transformed the interior space of the old structure in light hues so that it may remain well-lit even with the low light it receives from the north and east. We tried to introduce an opening in the load-bearing structure of the dining area to accommodate ventilation in that space”, says Nabila Ferdousi, Founding Partner Architect of Plural Works. In outdoor landscaping, the design team improvised crafty workmanship while designing the pavement and used the monsoon plants to provide the residents and outsiders with a vibrant natural green ambiance with an earthy touch. Brick, a timeless building material that has stood the test of time, has an inherent playfulness with the sun. Its warm, earthy tones and rough texture create a delightful interplay with light and shadow, giving rise to a myriad of visual textures and patterns.
Throughout the day, the curved brick walls and the metals play with the sun’s light, and at night, the entire home becomes a bright lantern for the whole compound.
The monsoon brings new life to the building enveloping the space, materiality, green planters, and the mood of the residents in a veil of mist and magic. Along with the Founding Partners of Plural Works, S M Rumman Mashrur Chowdhury and Nabila Ferdousi, the design team includes Structural Consultant Suash Gosh Joy, Site Manager Emon Ahmed, Brick Work Contactor: Al-Ami and Metal-Work Contractor Humayun.
This project was effective in informing the mass people of the area that it is not always required to demolish an entire structure and build a new one; rather, minor adjustments with a delicately crafted touch by an architect in accordance with fundamental climatic and contextual considerations can create a solemn atmosphere for both the clients and surroundings, achieving a larger sustainability scale. The retrofitted and refurbished architecture that Plural Works firm was successful in creating, stands both majestically and boldly amidst the deluge of rapid urbanization playing with the monsoon, with its intricate details in every way.
Photography by – Maruf Raihan and Plural Works