The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has named Friendship Hospital in Bangladesh, designed by Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA as the winner of the 2021 RIBA International Prize, the biennial award highlighting worldwide projects that "demonstrate design excellence and social impact". The remote community hospital set within a riverine landscape translates the site's conditions prone to flooding into the central theme of the design, crafting a serene environment around the water element. The jury commended the project's thoughtful and innovative design within a modest budget, its use of local craftsmanship, and its climate-resilient response.
Commissioned by the NGO Friendship, whose mission is to empower remote rural areas, the hospital provides healthcare services to the local communities of Satkhira, where the rising sea levels have altered the environment transforming agricultural land into a water-laden landscape. Using water as a central design theme, the project is organized along a canal that cuts through the site, separating the inpatients and outpatients areas. This canal collects rainwater and helps regulate the microclimate, while a series of courtyards bring light and natural ventilation to the wards.
Friendship Hospital embodies an architecture of humanity and protection that reflects the Friendship NGO's philanthropic mission to provide dignity and hope to communities through social innovation. Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA has achieved a building designed with a human touch which is deftly integrated with its surroundings and celebrates local, and traditional crafted materials. The hospital is relevant to critical global challenges, such as unequal access to healthcare and the crushing impact of climate breakdown on vulnerable communities. It is a demonstration of how beautiful architecture can be achieved through good design when working with a relatively modest budget and with difficult contextual constraints. This hospital is a celebration of a building dedicated to humans. - Odile Decq, Chair of the RIBA International Prize Grand Jury
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Crafted in local brick, a resilient and low-cost solution, the project features deep shaded corridors and openings that protect users from the hot climate. The jury appreciated the focus on providing patients with connections to the surrounding natural landscape, regarding the Friendship Hospital as a potential "sustainable and affordable blueprint for other clinical facilities in rural regions."
In a sublimely important moment, RIBA and the jurors have identified a project from the global periphery to bring to the centre of architectural discourse and be the subject of one of the most important global awards. I am encouraged that this may inspire more of us to commit, not in spite of, but because of limitations of resources and means, to an architecture of care both for humanity and for nature, to rise collectively to the urgencies that we face today on a planetary scale. - Kashef Chowdhury