Marina Tabassum wins Soane Medal for architecture

Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum has been awarded the 2021 Soane Medal in recognition of her “architecture of relevance”.


Tabassum, the founder and principal architect of Marina Tabassum Architects (MTA), was born and functions in Bangladesh and is acknowledged for her sustainable architecture which aims to enhance the lives of the country’s extremely-low-cash flow individuals.

A person of Soane Medal-successful Marina Tabassum’s very best-acknowledged will work is the Bait Ur Rouf Mosque in Dhaka. Photo by Sandro Di Carlo Darsa

1 of her very best-known performs is the Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, which features perforated brickwork so that sun and air can access its prayer corridor, and which won Tabassum the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016.

A jury of primary architects and critics chose Tabassum as the winner of this year’s Soane Medal, which recognises practitioners who even more comprehending of the significance of architecture in people’s lives.

Inside the Bait Ur Rouf Mosque prayer hall with sun-dappled light coming in through the brickwork
The mosque has perforated brickwork that allows air and sunshine into the prayer hall. Photograph by Sandro Di Carlo Darsa

Tabassum “continuously demonstrates the approaches in which architecture can enhance life and her do the job with Rohingya Refugees at Cox’s Bazaar showcases the likely of architects to lead to fixing the complications modern society faces today,” reported jury chair and Sir John Soane’s Museum director Bruce Boucher.

“From her Bait ur Rouf Mosque to Dhaka’s Independence Monument, Tabassum has made structures which carry communities alongside one another and foster a distinctive feeling of location,” Boucher stated.

“Her exploration into dwelling in the Ganges Delta and Bengali courtyards advise alternate types of creating, habitation and possession which have the prospective to inform architectural observe a lot more greatly,” he extra.

“All her function is underpinned by a emphasis on sustainability and Tabassum is genuinely major the conversation about the approaches in which architecture, folks and world interact.”

Round skylight at the top of a brick lightwell inside the Bait Ur Rouf Mosque
Lightwells also allow in the sun at Bait Ur Rouf Mosque. Image by Hasan Saifuddin Chandan

In addition to her architecture practice, Tabassum has held educational positions at TU Delft, Harvard University, the University of Texas and BRAC University in Dhaka.

She describes her human-centric, sustainability-driven tactic to practice as “the architecture of relevance”.

“I am honoured to have been preferred to obtain this recognition from these types of a distinguished establishment as the Soane Museum,” Tabassum stated.”

“Winning the Soane Medal means a terrific deal to me,” she extra. “My current do the job is concentrated on the twin crises of Bangladesh: the plight of refugees, and the heightened threat to our population of flooding, exacerbated by world warming. Both things have led me to concentration on prototyping very low affect, cellular housing which can be delivered at the most affordable expense doable for individuals in need to have.”

“Our objective is to make it an open up resource understanding that can support persons construct their possess homes, with the aid of a handbook with specific directions.”

Bamboo hut raised off the ground at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh
Tabassum’s latest operate has taken her to Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photograph by F. M. Faruque Abdullah Shawon

Tabassum’s modern jobs have seen her doing the job in Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and developing reduced-charge Khudi Bari (“Tiny House”) cellular and modular housing kits for households impacted by flooding in the Ganges delta region.

She was specified the Soane Medal at a ceremony in London on Tuesday, 16 November. Established in 2017 by Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, the prize recognises the operate of architects, educators or critics whose perform has furthered and enriched the general public knowing of architecture.

Bamboo house on stilts in the middle of a green field in a river delta
The Khudi Bari challenge noticed her create modular, cellular housing for river delta dwellers afflicted by flooding. Photograph by Asif Salman

Its earlier winners involve architects Rafael Moneo, Denise Scott Brown and Kenneth Frampton.

The 2021 jury was built up of Boucher alongside with architect David Chipperfield, architecture critic Paul Goldberger, architecture writer and curator Owen Hopkins, architect Farshid Moussavi, architect Eric Parry, design and style critic and creator Alice Rawsthorn, architecture critic Oliver Wainwright and architectural historian Thomas Weaver.

The Soane Award receiver receives a reproduction of the initial gold medal introduced to Sir John Soane as an award by the “Architects of England” in 1835.

They also give a lecture in front of an invited audience at the Sir John Soane Museum in London. Tabassum’s is obtainable to look at on line at the museum web site.