A TRIP TO BANGLADESH
In my last semester at Yale, I traveled with my studio to Bangladesh with David Adjaye. It was by far the most epic of the 4 trips I was able to take while at Yale. What was a surprise for me on this trip was what impacted me the most. I was anxious to get back into this part of the world. My first trip outside of the United States was to India in 2006. I remember how crazy Mumbai was all those years ago. Almost ten years later, I have been able to see so much more of the world, that I was curious how my new frame of mind would take in all of the crazy urbanity of Dhaka. I was excited. I was also thrilled to see one of the most coveted Kahn buildings ever erected. I never imagined I would be able to visit the Parliament building in my lifetime. But neither of those were the highlight of the trip. What had the most impact on me was the far reaches of Bangladesh. We spent some time far away from city life in the rural landscapes where millions of people live. It was an incredible journey.
The very first thing we did of course, was take a tour of the Parliament building by Louis Kahn.
We took a few rickshaws around the city to get a real feel for the urbanity. This photo of some of my studio mates approximately five minutes before my rickshaw was involved in a collision and I nearly lost my legs. It was very interesting being lost in a city of 20 million completely alone, with not a single white person anywhere. I stood out.
The reason we went to Bangladesh was to investigate the garment industry. Our studio project was to design a new system for this industry to develop in the interesting context that is Dhaka.
Yale arranged a bus for us to take us out into the countryside. Of course Yale cannot do anything small. They gave us a 50-person bus even though there were only 10 students and 3 professors. And of course what bus isn’t complete without a “Foreign Tourist” sign?
We visited an amazing complex by the renowned modernist South Asian architect, Muzharul Islam. He also had studied at Yale many decades ago, where he met Kahn and eventually was a critical connection in getting Kahn the Parliament commission.
The rest comes from our trip out into the Ganges. We spent the night at a beautiful complex designed by Studio Urbana with its architect Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury. We then spent a night on a hospital boat that would go from village to village along the river. Finally we ended up on a small island where my photos end due to my iPhone taking a swim into the Ganges. It was a wonderful trip.