Multifaceted Approach
in Architecture


Multifaceted Approach
in Architecture

Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation.
Image courtesy: Showcase magazine
Architecture is the mirror of what we truly believe in making our society. In our process of discovering ourselves as a part of a sustainable environment, we cannot but acknowledge the importance of architecture. For all the hidden, yet, unavoidable stimulus, architecture must be respected and allowed to be transcended from the darkness to light, from opaque to transparent, from obtrusive to obvious. Architect Salauddin Ahmed is a contemporary architect who believes in looking at things in the simplest way; right from the principle of matter. To him, architecture is not just for our existential values, it is in fact always within us. His designs are the straight feedback of the context, environment, atmosphere and desire of a place that impeccably connects a person to it.
ARCHITECT SALAUDDIN AHMED. Image courtesy: Showcase Magazine.
Architect Salaudddin Ahmed is the founder of Atelier Robin Architects, a renowned architectural firm in Dhaka Bangladesh. He holds the Principal Architect’s position in the practice and has been the driving force in running a 12 person’s office since 2001. He is also the founding member of Mongolbarer Shabha, a forum for architects, in Bangladesh since 2006, and the executive founding member of the Bengal Institute of Architecture I Landscapes I Settlements since 2015. Besides his full-time practice, he is involved with the local universities and takes part in teaching as a visiting faculty. In his recent endeavors, he has explored the field of curatorial work for the Chobi Mela, the largest festival of photography held in Asia.
Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation. Image courtesy: Showcase Magazine.
The wish to become an architect did not emerge in a day, it gradually grew in me as I understood the realm better every day. An architect can hold an umbrella that can shade many disciplines. It is always within you and hence I believe I made the best decision
Born and brought up in a joint family, Architect Salauddin Ahmed was always socially confident and had interactions with people from all circles of life. He grew up in Dhanmondi and completed his SSC and HSC from BAF Shaheen School. His father late Waizuddin Ahmed was a successful businessman and mother late Momina Khatun was a homemaker. As his family was financially well off, he never experienced any shortcomings while growing up. Growing up, he was a restless child who loved to wander around and play soccer in the Ahabani field. “I was never a kid to play games indoors. I loved challenges and hence soccer was my favourite sport. And now when I analyze my life as an architect, I feel like being in love with soccer undoubtedly gave me a structure in life. In soccer when you score, it’s never a single person’s game, it’s always a team work; a collective effort. And deep down in my own work, you will always see the joint endeavor of my talented team”, he says.

Besides playing soccer, Architect Salauddin Ahmed was also good with his pen and pencil. He loved drawing and it was perhaps his art teacher of 8th grade, Iskander sir, who planted the seed of being an architect in his head. “The term ‘architect’ was quite foreign to us in school, and when one day while drawing houses Iskander sir asked me if I wanted to be an architect, the term really stuck in my head”, says Architect Salauddin. “The further I got to know about it, the more it intrigued me. The wish to become an architect did not emerge in a day. It gradually grew in me as I understood the realm better every day. An architect can hold an umbrella that can shade many disciplines. It is always within you and hence I believe I made the best decision”, he adds.
Architect Salauddin Ahmed describes his work as intent to grasp the vastness of architecture while remaining within the fundamentals of the discipline. He doesn’t view architecture as a creative field, but rather as a technical one that requires creativity to produce solutions. His works inquire the aspects of discovery vs. invention in the practice of architecture and its overlapping boundaries. He believes in the multi-disciplinary approach which is a way to be good in the practice of architecture. Thus, he is a part of a larger circle where society lays its foundation for wellbeing. Some of his notable projects include Karim Residence in Bashundhara, lshtiaq Residence in Nikunja, Head Office of Concern Worldwide in Gulshan, Cafe Mango etc.
Karim Residence, Bashundhara. Image courtesy: Showcase Magazine.
“I don’t have a rigid, but a simple way of looking at things. I want my designs to be the feedback of the context, environment, atmosphere and desire of the place. It is quite an intricate task as the design also has to comply with the inner requirements and the client’s perception of beauty, Hence, the goal is to always create a fine balance,”
Karim Residence, Bashundhara. Image courtesy: Showcase Magazine.
Karim Residence in Bashundhara covers a land area of 18 katha and built area od 12000 Sq. ft. Between 2005 and 2010, the three-storied residential building, took its journey from the designer’s desk to its site for it to be physically experienced. The site, part of a neighborhood, where buildings edge shoulder to shoulder, gave the work its internal logics and drew its architecture from its context. The site, which claimed its stability from once a soft wetland, critically proclaimed its presence in the manifestation of the project and its internal relationships with its external conditions.

Overlapped being the concept, the project pushed its literal and phenomenal boundaries both in plan and in section. Through its spatial configurations, it allows the users to experience the subdued cultural spaces, which are often left out for being too local. The site once too soft to receive any gravitational challenge, responses by pushing its foundation deep into the ground and allowing the users to understand this by bringing natural lights through some of the punctuations deep into the space, as if a cave like experience can take place. The work attempts to transcribe the temporality of life and living through its material construct. Of many materials to choose from, only few were chosen for its realization- brick to contain its overlapped spaces, reinforced concrete to give it structural stability and timber to define its openings toward its context. In doing so, the various parts of the whole, somewhat represent beyond the given and allures to have a conversation of its becoming.

With its 134 doors and pulled out verandah from the core to the outer skin and beyond, it only testifies its constant intention to be a part of the collective and be a part of much larger fabric that all architecture dwell. In the end, the work represents an interpretation of modern-day living with rich cultural values in the realm of domesticity.
Ishtiaq Residence, Nikunja. Image courtesy: Showcase Magazine.
“My designs are always in a state of incompleteness. This leaves more possibilities for people to add, subtract and build up. Architecture is an embodiment, and hence I give scope to my clients to participate and also help them to understand the hidden possibilities of any place that may otherwise be developed as missed opportunity.”
Cafe Mango Dhanmondi-5, Dhanmondi-27, Shahazadpur. Image courtesy: Showcase Magazine.
Ishtiaq Residence in the heart of Nikunja comprise of a land area of 3 katha and built area of 1160 sq. ft. The adversarial shape and size of the site was a challenge in accommodating the program for a comfortable layout, especially for a residence plan. In response to the site, the building received a triangulated shape despite the tight corners, interior spaces allowed for the fresh air and generous ambience. The outer expression of the building was more an abstraction than a literal expression of the interior. Peripheral walls were clad with Serra Board, an architectural cladding material, expresses timber like surface quality and punctuated with larger windows whenever required, creating a series of curious thresholds between the insider and outsider. In its three levels above the ground and the basement below, the residence offered three bedrooms with their required ancillary spaces, living room with a comfortable veranda, family space, large working kitchen, rooftop garden and a water garden around the property.

Architect Salauddin Ahmed was involved in several projects of Cafe Mango. Cafe mango stands on the idea of “presence of absence” in the city. It denies, if any, pretension in its design. It also dismisses any “borrowed ideas” in its construction. Only upon closer examination, it reveals the honesty it possesses. Dhaka city thrives on chaos and untold complexities. It is a geography that has been experiencing tremendous transformation in a “Still Becoming” phase of mosaics, diverse backgrounds, and all spaces in between. What animates this city: the fabric of urban sprawl tagged as “Building Production,” or the moving bodies that occupy every inch of this fabric? Whether you call it a constructed reality or unplanned nightmare, Dhaka is weighed down far below the danger line of healthy living. At a closer look, Dhaka reveals her honest to-god-self; a “Cuckoo’s Nest” littered with materials from all corners of the globe without any real reason. Its round-the-clock struggle to survive, under the weight of too many people, makes one wonder how this city will reach harmony in urban living. Even in a city with over fifteen million people, we feel lonely, and find no room to be alone. But all is not lost; Dhaka still offers precious opportunities for new things and exciting ideas. Cafe Mango is a literal translation of carving and etching, like a print maker on a zinc plate. In each successive layer of its design, it reveals the language of the investigation and the materials that got investigated.
For his excellent residential and non-residential projects, Architect Salauddin Ahmed received a number of awards of appreciation. In 2011, he won Berger Architects’ Award in residential category for Karim Residence, Bashundhara. He received the Nokia Others award in 2009 in non-residential category for the project Winners/Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation. Image courtesy: Showcase Magazine.
Architect Salauddin believes architecture acts as a blue print of a culture’s aspiration. Through its built environment, it clarifies its inhabitants understanding or misunderstanding of that very place. It is absolutely crucial to know how a culture treats its imaginative power to communicate the cultural strata for themselves and for others. Hence, in order to become a successful architect, there is no shortcut. Honesty, accompanied by a good inner core and good education works as the main catalyst in order to become a good architect. The fluidity and honesty in his designs make him a true inspiration to look up to.
SOURCE Showcase Magazine