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Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

Bangladesh Architecture News - Nov 17, 2021 - 09:40   815 views

Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

The distinguished Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum has been awarded the 2021 Soane Medal, which is presented by Sir John Soane’s Museum in London.  

Tabassum, known as the architect of dispossessed, has been awarded yesterday, 16 November, 2021 in a virtual live event with the Soane Medal Lecture streamed live direct from Sir John Soane’s Museum, London.

Tabassum, 53,  was born, lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is Founder and Principal Architect of Marina Tabassum Architects MTA in Dhaka and is a pioneer of what she describes as "the architecture of relevance".

Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

Bait ur Rouf Mosque Faidabad, Uttara, Dhaka. Image © Sandro Di Carlo Darsa

"I am honoured to have been chosen to receive this recognition from such a distinguished institution as the Soane Museum. Winning the Soane Medal means a great deal to me," said Marina Tabassum. 

"My current work is focused on the twin crises of Bangladesh: the plight of refugees, and the heightened threat to our population of flooding, exacerbated by global warming."

"Both factors have led me to focus on prototyping low impact, mobile housing which can be delivered at the lowest cost possible for those in need." 

"Our goal is to make it an open source knowledge that can help people build their own houses, with the help of a manual with detailed instructions," Tabassum added.

Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

Bait ur Rouf Mosque, Faidabad, Uttara, Dhaka. Image © Sandro Di Carlo Darsa

Her practice focuses on designing buildings in tune with their natural environments - in particular, working with local materials and communities - while also embracing the design challenges of sustainability, environment, and our collective impact on the planet. 

The architect is currently working in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, in south-east Bangladesh, and designing mobile modular houses for ultra-low-income people in the country’s coastal areas.

Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

Khudi Bari. Modular mobile house for the Climate Victims of Bangladesh, Hands-on-built project 2020. Image © Asif Salman

Her notable buildings include the minimal, sun-dappled Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, opened in 2012, the Independence Monument of Bangladesh and the Museum of Independence, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

She was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016 with Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2018, she took part in Freespace, the main exhibition of the Venice Biennale for Architecture, where she explored the Bengali courtyard.

Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

Resilient Landscape, Rohingya Refugee Camps, Ukhiya. Image © F. M. Faruque Abdullah Shawon

She currently runs a Masters' Studio at TU Delft, and has previously been a Visiting Professor at Harvard University, the University of Texas and BRAC University in Dhaka. 

She has given lectures and presentations at a number of other educational institutions and conferences, having been the Director of Academic Program at Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements since 2015.

Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

Khudi Bari. Modular mobile house for the Climate Victims of Bangladesh Hands-on-built project 2020. Image © Asif Salman

"Marina Tabassum consistently demonstrates the ways in which architecture can improve lives"

The Soane Medal, was established by Sir John Soane’s Museum in 2017 and continues the mission of the Museum’s founder, the celebrated regency architect Sir John Soane, to encourage a better understanding of the central importance of architecture in culture and society. The Medal recognises architects, educators and critics who have made a major contribution to their field through practice, history or theory.

"The Soane Medal continues the mission of Sir John Soane to encourage a better understanding of the central importance of architecture in people’s lives, and Marina Tabassum’s ‘architecture of relevance’ is closely aligned with this," said Bruce Boucher, Deborah Loeb Brice Director, Sir John Soane's Museum, and Chair of jury. 

"She consistently demonstrates the ways in which architecture can improve lives and her work with Rohingya Refugees at Cox’s Bazaar showcases the potential of architects to contribute to solving the problems society faces today."  

"From her Bait ur Rouf Mosque to Dhaka’s Independence Monument, Tabassum has created buildings which bring communities together and foster a distinct sense of place. Her research into dwelling in the Ganges Delta and Bengali courtyards suggest alternative models of building, habitation, and ownership which have the potential to inform architectural practice more widely."  

"All her work is underpinned by a focus on sustainability and Tabassum is truly leading the conversation about the ways in which architecture, people and planet interact," Boucher added.

Marina Tabassum wins 2021 Soane Medal

Wisdom of the Land. Venice Architecture Biennale 2018, Arsenale, Venice, Italy. Image © MTA

The Grand Jury for the award composed of: Bruce Boucher, Deborah Loeb Brice Director, Sir John Soane's Museum, David Chipperfield, architecture critic Paul Goldberger, architecture writer and curator Owen Hopkins, Farshid Moussavi, Eric Parry, design critic and author Alice Rawsthorn, architecture critic Oliver Wainwright and architectural historian Thomas Weaver.

The inaugural Soane Medal winner in 2017 was the Spanish architect, Rafael Moneo. American architect, planner and theorist, Denise Scott Brown was awarded the second Soane Medal in 2018. The renowned British architect Kenneth Frampton received the third Soane Medal award in 2019.

Marina Tabassum photography © Sounak Das

> via Sir John Soane’s Museum