In 2015, the Bengal Foundation began work on a Contemporary Arts and Crafts Museum, at Singair, Savar, to house multi-media works from the organisation’s founder Abul Khair’s private collection, pieces by local artists, a sculpture garden, and a boat museum to celebrate the various cultural arts of local residents.
The museum designed by Nahas Khali, was designed to sit on a 45-acre site in the outskirts of Dhaka, and would be the first instance of large-scale adaptive reuse. Although the project did not proceed, initial efforts included transforming jute factories currently occupying the site, into exhibition spaces, seminar rooms and a cafeteria. Small bungalows were designed to occupy the space between natural groves of trees, their features responding to the low-hanging foliage overhead.
Although a portion of the site consists of built structures, the majority is unoccupied natural landscape. To respect this, the architects, headed by Nahas Khalil, have employed a minimal design approach which is informed by the environment rather than opposed to it. This consists of ecological maintenance and limiting architectural interventions to the interiors and an as-needed basis, thus preserving the trees and industrial character of the complex. Additional nods to the environment are achieved through sustainable practices, like natural daylighting and passive shading techniques.
Principal architect: Nahas Khalil
Architect in the Design Team: Tahmida Afroze
Architect in the Client’s Management Team: Luva Nahid Choudhury, Nahid Sharmin