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Bordered by India, Burma and the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries. The low-lying nature of the terrain means that Bangladesh is vulnerable to flooding and is now widely recognised as one of the countries at greatest risk from climate change.
In recent years Bangladesh has witnessed a wide range of disasters including Cyclone Sidr in 2007, Cyclone Aila in 2009, floods and landslides throughout 2010 and 2011. In conjunction with emergency response efforts, disaster risk reduction is key. Working with local communities to strengthen the capabilities of individuals and families to cope with natural disasters and their complex effects is a necessity. Improving shelter construction technologies and techniques based on successful existing practices is just one of the many aspects needed to encourage community self-reliance rather than dependence on aid.
This presentation looks at the use of earthen architecture across Bangladesh, from vernacular solutions to the role and relevance within NGO/INGO shelter responses, whilst discussing modest improvements and opportunities. The research project supported by the RIBA Boyd Auger Scholarship and Engineers Without Borders UK journeys through the coastal divisions of Khulna and Barisal, which are subject to a range of natural hazards including flash floods and cyclones, to the northwest earthquake-prone region of Dinajpur.
Jo Ashbridge (BSc, MPhil) is a Research Associate, currently developing a new public interest design initiative with Ryder Architecture. She has been involved with research and design projects in the field of development architecture since 2007 including constructing one room shelters down the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, supporting an international NGO in their goal to eradicate obstetric fistula across sub-Saharan Africa, authoring guidelines for transitional shelters post disaster and most recently researching earthen architecture in areas with limited assets within Bangladesh.
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Perspectives on Architecture talks series
Nobu Para, Dinajpur, Bangladesh. Photograph by Jo Ashbridge