Simplicity is the intent, monastic is the feel.
– Kashef Chowdhury
Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury/URBANA’s Friendship Centre in Gaibandha, Bangladesh, seems like a project that is not so much built up in the landscape, but carved out of it. A labyrinth of arches, courtyards, pavilions, and pools, all carefully crafted from handmade bricks, define the space of a facility for a charitable organization—Friendship NGO—who work with remote communities with limited opportunities.
Photographer Hélène Binet has captured the project in a series of beautiful images that show the building's surreal surrounding rural flatlands, reinforcing the idea that center exists as an echo of the nearby ruins of 3rd Century BC Mahasthan. The dynamic plays of light and shadow in the top-lit spaces are highlighted in the striking photographs as well as the richness and textural quality of the brick.
Located in an area prone to flooding, the complex sits within a man-made embankment, with earth covering on the roofs of the complex to create what appears as a kind of second ground. Binet’s photographs, some of which will be included in the upcoming book Kashef Chowdhury-The Friendship Centre, locates this "second ground" within the context of the area, placing emphasis on the relationship of landscape and building—a relationship that was an influential factor when the Friendship Centre received an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016.