10th Year Anniversary: Letter From Imrul Kayes

In celebration of our tenth anniversary, Architecture for Humanity is embarking on a fundraising campaign to support our chapters, grow the Open Architecture Network and bring critical design services to more communities in need. With your support, we can harness the power of the last ten years to make an even greater impact in the next ten years. Join us.

Donate $10 a month and help us bring good design to communities in need for another 10 years.

We’ve gathered a growing collection of letters from some of the many individuals and organizations who have helped give a voice to designing a more sustainable future. We will be featuring a new letter each month throughout the year.

Dear all fellows, friends and mentors of Architecture for Humanity,

We are really happy and grateful to be a part of the 10th anniversary of Architecture for Humanity. Congratulation!! In this moment of rejoice we have several thoughts and experiences we would like to share.

Imagine a place where towering high rise buildings, condominiums stands proudly glistening in the sun, beckoning the city’s wealthiest to enjoy its luxurious rarities while just below or adjacent to it there exists the trash-strewn, sprawling slum, where thousands of the city’s poorest live crammed in filthy, shabby rooms. The roads full of honking cars and other vehicles while the power lines are wrapped like spaghetti over electric poles. Very often the newest-model of BMW is seen to compete for lane space with the wooden rickshaws. What is even more common is seeing stylish teenagers flocking into gleaming mega-mall while shirtless beggars crouched in gutters watches them. Yes, though very shameful and unfortunate but this is today’s Dhaka, Bangladesh- a city of many contrasts, where the physical space between rich and poor is getting thinner by the day. Modern architects, who are more concerned with the building and construction of eye catching structures. This is not only having a drastic impact on the people who seeking shelters but an imbalance in the distribution of “innovation” and “technology” is increasing the social boundaries and leading to a “humanitarian crisis”.

On the contrary rural counterparts are considered to have the potential to be far more resourceful and energy efficient than the city. However, renewable resources, energy-efficient, low-carbon technologies are still vague terms for many especially when economic growth and fighting poverty remains the top priorities. Urban insecurity, violence and environmental deterioration have not yet touched the rural villages which are still rich in local, traditional knowledge, craftsmanship. The essence of true Bangladeshi space quality, landscape, material and the language of the built form still exists in these remote villages. Repetitive environmental hardships flood, storm, and cyclones have forced people to migrate to the city to make a living even if they do not like thus, becoming victim of poverty, disease and inadequate housing. The rural life could be improved; indigenous knowledge could be further enriched if modern knowledge were exchanged through participatory process by establishing a route of sustainability through community development approach could be a start. In spite of all these possibilities, the scope for architects to work in the developing sector or research work is very limited both in terms of funding and also because these skilled people have to struggle to make a living at the same time.

Where do we start to tackle the problem when survival is the challenge? AFH-Dhaka, have only recently started its journey, with a group of young energetic architects who are willing to lend their time and energy to make a better place for everyone. We are proud to announce that up till now we have a total of 179 members in our AFH-Dhaka face book group, completed two demonstration project and documentation of an international workshop on earthen construction- which shows the immense response and support we have received from people all over the world. However, we are no Hercules; we cannot fight these battles alone. Bangladesh is a small country and it has negligible impact on the world but we find our strength to go forward when we see the wonderful works of various local chapters of AFH and how it has been silently making changes! We appreciate and feel inspired when we see architects, designers and other professionals devoting their time and energy to where it is most needed. AFH have made us believe in ourselves and now we also believe that if the percentage of good people, who are coming forward to help, can be so many, then surely it is possible to create a more sustainable future!

We are hopeful that it is not very far when all of our dreams will come true.


Md.Imrul Kayes
Co-ordinator and Representative