From December 2, 2017 to May 6, 2018, the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum is presenting the exhibition Bengal Stream: The Vibrant Architecture Scene of Bangladesh, curated by Niklaus Graber, Andreas Ruby and Viviane Ehrensberger, produced in collaboration with the Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements, Dhaka.
With Bengal Stream S AM is the first museum worldwide to present an exhibition on Bangladesh’s architecture. In a chequered historical sequence of events, various trends have expressed themselves in different architectural ways, according to religious or socio-cultural developments. Nevertheless, many underlying motifs have held their ground in a typological sense for centuries and even represent a valid foundation for today's architectural trends. Modernism also used these as a basis on which to build, whereby the most important local protagonist was Muzharul Islam. It was also in keeping with his personal identity, situated between localism and internationalism, to bring international protagonists like Paul Rudolph, Stanley Tigerman and ultimately Louis I. Kahn to Bangladesh for important construction projects. In Bengal Stream, original drawings by Muzharul Islam are exhibited for the first time outside of his native Bangladesh.
The main focus of this exhibition is on contemporary positions. Many of today's protagonists were students, assistants or companions of Muzharul Islam and in recent decades they have formed an independent architecture scene that carries the societal and architectural concerns of their predecessors forwards in a contemporary way. Again and again, it is this loose group who, despite dynamic global pressure to develop, collectively stand up for architectural values and for an awareness of Bengali culture. The exhibition Bengal Stream brings together over 60 projects by established and emerging architects in Bangladesh. One of the most internationally prominent architectural photographers, Iwan Baan, was brought in to document the projects.
When the exhibition opens, a Christoph Merian Verlag publication with the same title will also be released. This catalogue covers all the presented projects and looks at the exhibition's themes in greater depth, with essays by the curators, as well as by local experts Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, Saif Ul Haque and Manzoorul Islam.