Building Resources Across Communities or BRAC (founded in 1972) is the world’s largest non-governmental organization in terms of the number of employees. BRAC seeks to create a “world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential.” This globally-known organization works in 11 countries, including Bangladesh, to eliminate extreme poverty and empower people with financial mobility and capacity building.
In 2017, BRAC approached Ci+AU to reimagine the next generation of its regional offices in rural and peri-urban regions across Bangladesh. Built mostly during the 1970s and 1980s, these aging offices have been plagued by insufficient work spaces and lack of community gathering areas, gender-friendly toilets, universal access, adequate natural light and ventilation, technology adaptability, and security. The BRAC commission offered us a unique opportunity to not only imagine a sustainable office typology for our own times, but also examine the crucial intersection between social justice and architecture.
Our design teams visited all the eight sites located in different climatic zones in Bangladesh. The allotted plots for these regional offices are relatively small, yet the given program for each office was extensive—spatial zones for 14 or more BRAC programs, such as micro-credit and education. Our primary design challenge was to conceive a compact office building with a clear articulation of different functional zones, both horizontally and vertically. We needed to create a sequential spatial diagram, from the public (beneficiary areas) to the private (staff accommodation and dining), all intermingled with a system of moderately-sized courtyards, facilitating natural light and air ventilation. As we imagined an inclusive, healthy, and ecological life-style office environment, we also endeavored to create a visual language that people across Bangladesh would readily identify with BRAC and its mission of social inclusiveness. That visual language took inspiration from three archetypal features of the Bengal pastoral landscape: the rudimentary Bengal hut, the solitary tree in the agricultural field, and the horizontal sweep of the Bengal delta.
BRAC Regional Office Landscape Design
BRAC Regional Office Project Physical Images