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     Volume 1 Issue 4 | August 27, 2006 |


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Campus Spotlight

Innovation in the center of excellence
Faculty of Architecture, BUET


BANGLADESH University of Engineering and Technology, abbreviated as BUET, is one of the most prestigious institutions for higher studies in the country. BUET is the oldest institution for the study of Engineering and Architecture in Bangladesh. It is a public institution of higher studies. About five thousand students are pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies in engineering, architecture, planning and science in this institution. The physical expansion of the university over the last three decades has been impressive with construction of new academic buildings, auditorium complex, halls of residence, medical center etc.

The process of industrialisation and urbanisation in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in the 1950s led to hectic development, which suffered from the lack of technological support. In view of the challenging situation, the Department of Architecture was established alongside the existing engineering education in the BUET.

Architecture has been an academic and professional curriculum at BUET since 1962 with only one Professor from USA, Richard E. Vrooman and six students in the department. Acknowledging the diverse aspects of the study and practice of architecture, the Faculty of Architecture provides a range of academic programmes granting five types of degrees: Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture, Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) and Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (BURP) and also PhD.

In 1986 the department celebrated its Silver Jubilee. Since 1966, 595 students have been awarded the degree of Bachelor of Architecture and five Master of Architecture. There are now a total of 421 students at the undergraduate level and 64 at the postgraduate level. Students of the department have excelled in national and international design competitions. Student entries in Mimar Design competition IV, V and VI were awarded as Winners, Highly Commended and Commended respectively. In 1989, entries secured Honorable Mentions in the Students Jamboree of Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA). In 1994, the Department entry to the CAA won the First Prize.

The department of architecture, BUET maintains an enrollment of approximately 55 students in undergraduate programmes every year.

Acknowledging the diverse aspects of the study and practice of architecture, the faculty of architecture provides a range of academic programmes granting different types of degrees. The diverse academic curricula are enriched by a wide variety of special programmes and events. Leading practitioners, critics, and scholars from around the country participate in periodic all-school lectures and an intensive series of studio reviews, which are held during Jury Week at the end of the semester.

The department provides students with the opportunity of gaining practical experience in offices of leading practitioners in Bangladesh and abroad. Over the years, this experience has proven an essential key to bridging the gap between academia and the profession. A significant number of travel awards and fellowships are given each year to upper level undergraduates and graduate students. The department provides a complement of academic resources and support facilities in a close-knit community, creating numerous opportunities for the interdisciplinary methodology considered essential to the study of architecture.

Facilities also include advanced computer visualisation and research laboratory, design studio, a fully equipped model shop, and a photography laboratory. In addition to the department's in-house resources and architecture library houses a collection of many current volumes and journals for the study of art, photography, film, art history, architecture, landscape architecture, and classical archaeology.

In the past, distinguished architects and professionals of the stature of Fazlur R. Khan, Louis I. Kahn, Paul Rudolph, Stanley Tigermann, Aptullah Kuran, Helmut Brocherdt, Kenneth Young, Charies Correa and B. V. Doshi presented lectures in the department. The department also had group visitors at different times. The department made significant contribution in the International Technical Conference on Tropical Urban Climate, held in 1993 and organised by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). The department also runs link programmes consisting of study, research, lecture, visit, etc. with other international schools and organisations. Presently, a research Programme jointly participated by the Department, the AA School and Building Research Establishment of the UK is ongoing. Also preparations are underway to establish link programmes with the College of Architecture and Planning, King Faisal University, KSA and the Department of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA.

Dr Khandakar Shabbir Ahmed, professor department of Architecture (BUET), says, "Department of Architecture, BUET is the top-rated undergraduate programme in our country. We have had some experiences with a few other universities across the country and Department of Architecture, BUET is the only one where we find students to be intellectually developed and professionally useful, which is unfortunately rare in other universities.”

“The Department of Architecture is committed to advancing the architectural education through different programmes and research. The department continuously endeavors to instill in the students a firm intellectual and professional base. The course curricula are designed to bring out the best in students aspiring to enter the profession,” he adds.

Tensile Architecture: Latest in the country
Tensile architecture is a relatively new field of architecture devoted to lightweight membrane structures. Composed primarily of a cable-net supporting a fabric or sheet material structures, this form of architecture is well suited for sheltering large areas, such as stadiums, arenas, outdoor shelters, and airport terminals. Fabric Architecture is now expanding through product distribution in close conjunction with the department of trade and industry to India, Russia and USA.

The students of Architecture Department, BUET conducted by two teachers Dr Shabbir and Dr Riad developed practical calculations of stresses and deformations of beams, shells and membranes. They introduced this type of structure first time ever in Bangladesh. They designed a thin-shell structure pavilion for the BUET campus, covering the area of 200ft².

The students are getting experience in the field of fabric architecture, from concept to visualisation, design, engineering, manufacture and installation.

The department also has a unit consisting of teachers and students for the 'minimum cost housing group' that focuses attention on the human settlement problems of poor nations. The programme involves students to engage their hands-on design and problem-solving situations that demand community-based multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural professional skills.

The Department of Architecture is also a seat of culture. It has not only produced hardcore architects, but also architects who have made major contributions in other fields, for which they will be remembered with reverence for times to come. The department activities include many cultural and literary activities on different national days. Every year an annual festival is held together with alumni meet. The students of the department organise all kinds of activities from quiz, poetry competition to photography exhibition.

Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP)
The importance of urban and regional planning for a country like Bangladesh can hardly be over emphasised. The Department of Urban and Regional Planning was established in 1962 under the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, offering Master's Degree in Urban Regional Planning. It has started to offer BURP, the undergraduate degree in URP, and also PhD, from 1997. It has granted about 135 graduate degrees and forwarded a progressive and interdisciplinary approach to the theory and practice of planning. The graduates of the department are doing increasingly better in the fields of spatial planning, administration, policy making, Global Positioning System (GIS), research etc., in a diverse range of professional organisations.

A planner develops long-and short-term plans to use land for the growth and revitalization of urban, suburban, and rural communities, while helping local officials make decisions concerning social, economic, and environmental problems. Planners promote the best use of a community's land and resources for residential, commercial, institutional, and recreational purposes. Planners may be involved in various other activities, including making decisions relating to establishing alternative public transportation systems, developing resources, and protecting ecologically sensitive regions. Urban and regional planners address issues such as traffic congestion, air pollution, and the effects of growth and change on a community. They may formulate plans relating to the construction of new school buildings, public housing, or other kinds of infrastructure.

The planners also examine proposed community facilities, such as schools, to be sure that these facilities will meet the changing demands placed upon them over time. They keep abreast of economic and legal issues involved in zoning codes, building codes, and environmental regulations.

The Architecture Department Photographic Society
The Architecture Department Photographic Society (ADPS) is the department's own photographic organisation. The aim of the Society is to promote, improve, share and enjoy photography in Bangladesh offering many extensive services, all specifically designed to improve photography and photographic skills. The purpose of the image is to capture the feeling of walking by the structure, not to delight or decorate. Every year the ADPS has an annual convention and exhibition. The conference runs for a week and has a varied programme of lectures, workshops and tours. The activities of the ADPS also include national competitions, exhibitions, field trips, educational workshops, publications, and access to a highly respected system of photographic distinctions.

Photographs by : Raina, Rajiv, Labanya, Zaidi

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