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Participants enroute, via boat, to the Arcadia Education Project. The school, which won the 2019 Award, is an amphibious structure, built on land, that is flood-prone.

It’s a cool and damp morning at a school in South Kanarchor, on the outskirts of Dhaka. As the children break for recess, they’re greeted by the sight of six young visitors, approaching the school by boat. The children clamour around the bamboo railings excitedly. Nestled in the heart of South Kanarchor is the Arcadia Education Project, one of the winners of the 2019 cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA). Built on land that floods regularly, the amphibious structure is an innovative solution that responds to climate, context, and community. And that’s exactly what the visitors were there to learn about.

The Bait Ur Rouf Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Random circular roof openings allow daylight into the prayer hall creating an ornate pattern on the floor, enhancing spirituality through light.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was conceptualised with the hope of creating a platform to cultivate conversation and debate about the built environment and provide direction for the betterment of human life through its enhancement. Award-winning architect and Steering Committee member Marina Tabassum spoke to The Ismaili to continue the conversation.

The inspiration for the Friendship Centre came from the Buddhist monasteries in the area, and the architectural influences include exposed brickwork, stark character, and a quadrilateral layout.

Can you imagine life in a place where the very ground you stand on is not stable and it is almost routine to see the land sliding into the river when it rains? Where people know their schools, fields, yards, and even their homes are on unstable ground?

Dr Rubana Huq, Managing Director of the Mohammadi Group, speaks of the dynamic potential of human agency at the event entitled ‘A cosmopolitan ethic in action.’

The Ismaili Council for Bangladesh hosted an event earlier this year in which the notion of a cosmopolitan ethic was explored and discussed by a selection of esteemed speakers and guests, gathered within the beautiful setting of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Dhaka.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Bangladesh celebrated the 61st anniversary of the ascension of Mawlana Hazar Imam to the Ismaili Imamat. The event also marked the conclusion of year-long commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Hazar Imam, which culminated in a global celebrations, including an address by Hazar Imam to Portugal’s members of Parliament, and the establishment of the new Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Lisbon, Portugal.

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