Philip Johnson once said, “All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space”. It is therefore a lifelong pursuit of an architect or a designer to understand the space, and to realize the magical practice of designing it. For an architecture student, it is sometimes exasperating and yet the most cherishing pursuit of all.
Department of Architecture at North South University celebrated its fifth-year founding ceremony by hosting a grand “Architecture Week”. The week started on the 17th and continued until 22nd. The events included display of student works, lecture series by eminent architects from home and abroad, student design competition, prize giving ceremony and architecture film show. The Architecture week was inaugurated by M.A. Kashem, chairman NSU foundation and vice chancellor Dr. Hafiz G. A. Siddiqi. Chairman of the Architecture department, Prof. Harun Rashid and all the faculties were also present. Some of the best projects of students from first to fourth year were displayed at sky gallery.
Designs at NSU
“We worked very hard for the success of this architecture week and it was worth it. I was excited about the design competition”, said Sajjad, a second year student. “It feels good to see all our projects at one place. It gives us a sense of family” was the comment from Sanib, a senior student. The weeklong event extended outside NSU premise as well. There was a heritage walk in old Dhaka, IAB lecture presentation and a dinner.
The final year jury coincided with the celebration of Architecture week. Unlike a final exam, architecture students have to face an oral presentation before a panel of judges. This evaluation process is called 'jury' in architectural education. This year's jury was something to remember. The panel of judges included notable architects like Shamsul Wares, Bashirul Haque, NR Khan, Rafiq Azam ; at least six different architecture departments' chair, former president of Malaysian Institute of Architects, many other practicing architects, educators and entire student body. Some of the notable projects were conceptual redesigning of Jahangirnagar University, Lalon Shah Memorial and Shilpakala academy in Chittagong.
As part of the architecture week a design charette was organized by the architecture department. 'Charette' or Student Design Competition brings students of architecture from all over the country together. Altogether, there are about twelve universities in the country with Architecture department. Students were given a design problem, which they had to solve creatively and express in their design within a certain time frame. The interaction between students of various universities generated a unique atmosphere of creative association. Regardless of the result, the camaraderie of facing a design challenge together inspired them in a positive way.
Dr. Tan Loke Mun, former president of Malaysian Institute of Architects and a world renowned architect was the guest of honor.
He delivered an inspiring lecture to the students on green global cities. The awe inspiring lecture was attended by Professor Nazrul Islam, chairman of university grants commission (UGC), the vice chancellor, chairman of NSU foundation, teachers, eminent architects, teachers and all the students. “Change is inevitable”, he mentioned in his lecture,” It is you, the future generation of architects, who has to be careful about how the change will be made. A great responsibility lies on you.”
Architectural education system is a bit different than other theoretical higher education. Instead of having only theory classes, students have to go through 'studio' courses, where they need to work on their creative projects inside the classroom for a longer period of time. These hands on interaction between students and teachers create a different bonding. Architecture students also end up spending lot more hours for their assignments than their peers in other departments. Overnight projects are quite common and long hours of design process are frequent. However, the achievement of it all is very transcendental.
North South University's department of Architecture is quite new in its journey, but it is by no means any less in the quality of education it provides. It has an impeccable arrangement of faculty, both core and visiting. All core faculties are foreign graduates. And the visiting lecturers list can be read as the 'Who's Who' of Bangladesh.
From sculptor Hamiduzzaman to architect Bashirul Haque, some of the brightest minds of the country make their mark in the flattering new campus. Professor Harun Ur Rashid, the department chair is keen to keep the standard high. “We maintain a high level of quality compared to many private universities. The students might frown upon the gruesome pressure they have to face, but we must maintain a strict standard to produce excellent architects”. And he is right. NSU architecture student body may face many challenges, but their projects are testaments of their dedication. The result of the students' hard work is reflected in their displayed projects.
The last day was scheduled for prize giving ceremony and a cultural function. Needless to say, it was very entertaining for all. From day to day activities, students sometime get tired of projects and assignments. “Architecture Week” provided the students a perspective of a bigger picture. Especially, the camaraderie of students, teachers and professionals established the idea that they are all part of a larger community of creative minds.
(The author is a lecturer at North South University, Department of Architecture)
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