Squaring the circle
Built in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2011, Shatotto Architects based this outstanding 20,667 sq ft three-storey residence on a pure square and constructed it from a single material of cast-concrete. In some ways this is the perfect example of the sphere – the universal celestial form, transformed to its terrestrial expression of the cube.
The architects, being sensitive to the current socio-economic conditions of Dhaka, kept the architectural vocabulary geometrically simple and uncluttered. Traditional spaces such as the courtyard, pond, ghat – which in Bengali means ‘steps to water’, and a large green planted area merge together the urban and the rural. In fact, the site is only a short walk from the city centre and is surrounded by multi-storey tower blocks. So to ensure privacy for the occupants, an introverted design strategy was followed and a water-court, serving as a swimming pond, was placed in the middle of the house.
On a spiritual level, it’s the inter-relationship between form and void that lies at the heart of the ancient Bengali Lalon philosophy. This is the underlying inspiration for this building, where the open quad at the center depicts the pure feeling of Nothingness.
In terms of physical comfort, the building has been cleverly designed to work with, not against, the Bangladeshi climate. The South and South East ends of the building draw in a cool breeze during the hot, humid summers, followed by the warmth of the sun during the winters. The central water court also acts as a natural exhaust system, allowing hot air to escape and turn the middle court into a cool and welcoming sanctuary.