DESI (Dipshikha Electrical Skill Improvement) is a vocational school for electrical training located in the midst of the rural setting, which is part of the extension project of hand-made Meti-school (Aga Khan Award 2007), Rudropur, Bangladesh. This was hand-built, including other Home made house. All these three houses and the training school were the result of a hands-on workshop for students and young architects conducted in a rural area of Bangladesh. The team included local laborers, students from BRAC University and University of LINZ, Austria and Architect Anna Heringer as the Project leader. “The intention was to create an inter-cultural exchange with the expectation that the young architects will be able to carry their knowledge and skills to other regions of Bangladesh and the trained labor will be able to use their skills to build other modern mud houses in the region”-Ar. Anna Heringer. Here, although traditional means of construction and local materials e.g. mud and bamboo were used but these conventional techniques were further improved with the combination of modern knowledge. Almost all the works were done by hands without the use of any technical machinery except for the mixing of the earth, water and rice straw mixture for which cows were used. It was observed that the reason for the short lifespan (about 8-10 years) of local buildings was that, usually, it did not have foundation or damp-proof course. So, along with structural stability the local earthen construction techniques were improved to provide protection against rain and rising damp. Also to help prevent rats and other vermin from nesting in the walls, brickwork masonry foundation, the PE damp proof course, compacting methods, and Ferro cement technique were used. As each layer dried the surface of the earthen walls were cut flat with a sharp spade. The walls are left bare on the outside while on the inside they have been plastered with clay plaster and light-colored white mud. The skeleton of the roof, made from the bamboo framework is firmly anchored with the wall beneath. The DESI building, however, attempts to incorporate all of the functions of working and living, a nice beautiful long veranda into a single structure. The DESI building consists of two classrooms, two offices, and two residences for the school instructors. There is a separate bathroom with two showers and two toilets for the teachers and a bathroom facility with toilets and sinks on the ground floor for the students demonstrating a new significance of mud houses with all facilities which are normally found in concrete and masonry structure around the country. Thus, right when the prevailing trend of using energy-intensive and more expensive construction methods e.g. concrete and masonry is conquering many parts of the world as well as this region, this method of using locally available materials and techniques were in strong contrasts. Finally, each of the rooms has its own openings along with ventilators, made from hand-made terracotta with respect to the climate also use of solar energy, solar water heater can shows sensitivity for promising future in present energy crisis. Beautiful bamboo and wooden works by our local craftsmen. Thus, during the whole design, construction process and in all other aspects the involvement of the occupants/owner was so exemplifying that it has set example of how architecture can provide a lasting contribution of local communities in developing area. This project has given me the opportunity to learn a lot, for example- “although local materials are being used but by taking account of the visual perception of materials, its texture, way of using this materials, use of alternative energy (present energy crisis) it is also possible to design a building that captures the local, traditional essence, which is appropriate for our context, while giving a new language with the improved technique to our traditional architecture in terms of environmental sustainability”. So all that remains to be said is that, the purpose of constructing such a building was to strengthen the infrastructure, setting an example of how local skills can be used and therefore showing a promising future for the rural region.
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