A community hospital in a remote corner of Bangladesh has been named the world’s “best new building” by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
The Friendship Hospital is located in Shyamnagar village in southwest Bangladesh’s Satkhira district – an area vulnerable to frequent storms and rising sea levels.
The 80-bed hospital in the cyclone-prone area has been constructed using locally-made bricks.
“We employed all local materials, local craftsmen… People in the surrounding areas were villagers and we had to be sure that they would accept this as a place, where they could come for care,” Kashef Chowdhury, the project’s chief architect, told Al Jazeera.
A canal runs through the hospital to separate the hospital’s inpatient and outpatient sections.
“The canal helps with microclimatic cooling. It helps to avoid any form of air conditioning and power consumption in the entirety of the camps,” said Chowdhury.
“We introduced a series of courtyards, gardens, pools and trees, lot of green which bought sunlight and air into all spaces.”
Architects said the impact of climate change was a major consideration behind designing the project.
“We realised that the agricultural landscape was changing. From agriculture, people were moving into shrimp farming because of the rising sea levels,” Chowdhury said.
“We sort of took their (villagers’) wisdom and brought into the design of this hospital.”
The prestigious award has been celebrated by those who live and work in the area.
“We have not seen any hospital like this before. It blends in very well with nature, nothing artificial is used, even the bricks are natural. It is clean, neat, and beautiful – both inside and outside – compared to other buildings in the area,” shrimp farmer Golam Rasul told Al Jazeera.