Wednesday 01 May 2013

Why and how incidents like the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar happen in Bangladesh

on Wednesday 01 May 2013 - 14:37:49 | by admin
savar building collapse photo by Abir Abdullah
[Photo: Abir Abdullah]
April 24th 2013, morning, the nine storied Rana Plaza in Savar near Bangladeshi capital Dhaka collapsed, it took at least 400 lives, around 2500 survivors were rescued alive and around a thousand more are missing. If we look into the facts that are related to building construction in Bangladesh and this incident we will have to connect a few dots here.
To make a building in Dhaka area (the boundary covers nearby suburbs and towns beyond Dhaka metropolitan, thus it covers the incident area Savar) the owner needs to take permission from 13 different organizations (along with the main authority RajUK) to get the permit of construction and approval of architectural design (and in case of large projects, structural and other designs), it includes municipality, environment department, fire service, electricity and gas distribution authorities etc. Apparently RajUK coordinates this whole approval process with all the organizations. During the construction, the overall responsibility of checking if the construction is done according to approved design is also the duty of RajUK and all other related organizations. In case of building a factory you need to take a few additional approvals from factory building related authority and if it is a garments factory then you also need license and approval of the non-government organization BGMEA an association of garments owners that regulates the garments business in Bangladesh. If corruption plays any role at any point in this process, incidents like the collapse of Rana Plaza and fire at Tazreen Garments may happen any time. And many of these organizations are infamous for institutionalizing corruption. Allegedly often these paper works are done or overlooked by political influences and bribe.

Particularly in case of Rana Plaza the problem might have happened in many different layers. Allegedly the building was designed to be 6 storied, the owner made additional 3 floors without permission. It was the duty of the local authorities to prevent the owner from doing that at the first place. There could be fault in the structural design. Then the usage of the building, it was architecturally and structurally designed as a commercial complex, for small shops and offices. The dead-load and live-load of garments factories are far more than commercial buildings, counting the number of people per sft and the weight of the heavy machinaries. So even if the initial structural design was ok as a commercial building, using it as garments factories might have made the structure fail. It is difficult to tell what exactly happened without extensive engineering investigation. It was also the responsibility of architects and engineers who worked for that project in whatever phases to check it's legal status.

So clearly all the organizations that let the owner make this building without following the rules and let them use it for unapproved purpose are responsible. Of course along with the building owner, the owners of the garments factories for doing accepting all the corruptions related to building construction and it's usage. And particularly they are responsible for forcing the workers to go inside that building that day even after knowing the warning.
The troublesome fact of all is the paradoxical existence of the two big authorities RajUK for building construction and BGMEA for regulating garments industry. RajUK has it's own real estate business, they sell land and apartments and they are also the authority of regulating building construction and real estates, that's contradictory. A single organization can't run a business and also be the regulatory body of it. Similarly BGMEA is a garments owners' association, it is easily imaginable what may happen when all the regulatory authority and duty of looking after the welfare of workers remain under the owners' control. So Bangladesh need separate independent commissions as the regulatory authorities of building construction and also the garments industry to reduce unethical practices and corruption.
A few good things happened recently with building codes and laws. Bangladesh has a national building code BNBC, first drafted in 1993 and in 2006 it became mandatory by law to follow the code with a provision of 7 years imprisonment if violated. In 2006 a new construction law came out with a lot of good changes by the help of years of efforts of the architects and related professionals. These codes and laws are not entirely perfect, however they are under constant practice, observation and development. An updated version of the building construction act is under development with many necessery changes.
We hope those efforts be successful and the laws be enforced properly to prevent tragedies like Rana Plaza and save human lives.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

International Union of Architects - 5th Young Architects International Award

on Wednesday 12 December 2012 - 16:36:25 | by T Z H
UIA Young Architects Meeting 2012The Chamber of Architects of Turkey, in collaboration with its regional Antalya Branch, and with the support of the International Union of Architects, has launched the fifth edition of the International Award for Young Architects. This year’s award particularly recognizes the winning projects in an international ideas competition focusing on temporary sheltering spaces. The need for temporary shelters for victims of natural and man-made disasters and those disadvantaged persons left on the edge of society is greater and greater. The role and the response of architects worldwide in this context with which they are not necessarily familiar is the aim of this competition that will be followed by an open debate to be held during the next Young Architects meeting in Antalya, on 25 May 2013.

The main aim of the Event is to evaluate the architectural responses to the needs of temporary housing and open them to debate. Furthermore, the provision of temporary housing needs of disaster victims is expected to be considered as a spatial configuration and a stage for examining the current developments in material and structural systems. Therefore, the temporary housing settlements – which came forth as a result of disasters – are expected to produce the outcome of increase in the quality of architectural design. The participants of the competition are required to define a context of a disaster of their choice, to produce demountable design proposals for temporary housing units and settlements in an economic and practical way. Both visual and textual formats are going to be used for the presentation of the design proposals.


Participation in the competition is open to architects worldwide, born after 1974, registered to the organization of architects in their country.

Registration for the competition takes place at the same time as the submission of entries. Participation is free of charge. The working languages are Turkish and English.  


Announcement:                                               November 05, 2012
Deadline for questions:                                    December 17, 2012
Deadline for answers of the questions:               December 28, 2012
Deadline submission of projects:                       March 15, 2013
Evaluation of the Jury:                                      April 05, 2013
Announcement of the results:                           April 12, 2013
Exhibition of the projects:                                May 25 2013
Award ceremony:                                            May 25, 2013      


Entries will be submitted anonymously. Submissions will include a sealed envelope containing the competitor’s personal information. The identity code of the participants will be written on the outside the of envelope in which applicants’ name, surname, telephone number, e-mail address, communication address, photocopy of their identity card/passport and their registration number at their Chamber/Institute will be clearly written. In case of team participation, all team members’ information will be in this closed identity envelope. Project boards will be prepared according to the template. The template can be found on website. The Project boards (70cm x 100 cm) will be submitted DIGITALLY without printing, at least 150dpi resolution, CMYK format, TIFF/JPEG/EPS type document recorded in DVD/CD.

1st prize           2.500 euros
2nd prize         1.500 euros
3rd prize          1.000 euros  

Visit the Competition site to know more. 

Tuesday 09 October 2012

Next Generation Design Competition by Metropolis Magazine

on Tuesday 09 October 2012 - 19:03:50 | by T Z H
Metropolis mag design competition 2012 Metropolis, the renowned magazine of Architecture & Design has announced its 9th annual design competition. This prestigious event trails back to 2003 with a view to promote environmental activism, social involvement, and entrepreneurship in young designers. This year they have challenged the designers to develop solutions that empower, advance, and include the groups that are often overlooked in the design process. For example take our rapidly increasing aging population and citizens with disabilities. The form is up to the applicants, considering how people are becoming attached to technologies and what devices, materials, and modes of transportation will stay relevant 20 years from now. Keep in mind what other groups will benefit from the design.  

Empower with inclusive design

It’s hard to think about 1.13 billion people’s unique problems and solutions, and to make it easy for the designers, you can consider your mom, your dad, your uncle or aunt, your friend, your kid brother or sister, your grandparents, any of your relations with special needs. The proposals should also respect the core values of good design—incorporating systems thinking, sustainability, accessibility, materials exploration, historic relevance, and technology—while forwarding our thinking on what designers can accomplish.  

  The competition is open to any Designer and Architect in practice for 10 years or less, as well as design students. Collaboration between inter disciplinary personals like architecture, urban planning, landscape design, interior design, product design, and graphic design are encouraged. The entry fee is $75 for each submission. Up to three submissions will be accepted from an individual or team of collaborators. A separate application and entry fee is required for each project submitted.  

Deadlines  All entries must be submitted by February 18, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  

The $10,000 prize is intended to support designers whose entries reflect considerations of inclusive design, systems thinking, sustainability, materials exploration, progressive technologies, function, and provocative form. 
For more information visit the Competition Site.

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