When commitment to community and environment inspires architecture

Rather than creating a deep volume structure, the design features a building divided in two, creating an opening in the middle. This allows the flow of air, light and a visual connection to the neighboring community

June 21, 2022, 11:00 AM

Last modified date: Jun 21, 2022 at 11:04 am

Desco wanted to make a bold statement with its new head office building, a physical entity that would be a symbol of the company. photo courtesy

“> Desco wanted to make a bold statement with its new head office building, a physical entity that would be a symbol of the company.  photo courtesy

Desco wanted to make a bold statement with its new head office building, a physical entity that would be a symbol of the company. photo courtesy

Two years ago, as a recent college graduate, a question bothered me – why do we study specialized subjects like medicine, architecture or even journalism? Later that year, when I was interviewing an architect for a story I was working on, I accidentally got the perfect answer to that question from him – problem solving is what inspires architecture which is why we study different topics.

I thought to myself that this makes perfect sense.

Years later, when I sat in front of my desk, browsing through the construction plan and design of the new head office of Desco (Dhaka Electrical Supplies Company) in Dhaka, I found that it was the concept of problem solving as well as commitment to the community and the environment that inspired the design of this project.

This ongoing project is still in the construction phase and was designed by Roofliners – In Quest Consortium, with National Development Engineering Ltd (NDE) undertaking the construction part.

The first thing that caught my attention was that in the design, the building is divided into two parts – which means two vertical buildings built around a courtyard and connected by bridges and green terraces.

I thought that instead of keeping this void in the middle, they could simply design a massive building that would accommodate more people. So why did they decide to waste so much space?

Architect Monon Ben Younes, one of the architects from the team, provided an explanation. He said, “When completed, the building will stand on the Dhaka-Mymensingh Expressway, which will cover the view of the residential area behind. Dividing the building in the middle creates an opening, which will still provide light and ventilation to the building. Community.”

According to the team, this is something that comes from a commitment to the community.

This is not the only feature that I found interesting. Disco, being the client, wanted this building to be energy-saving and environmentally friendly.

where it all started

Desco is a public limited company that distributes electricity to the northern parts of the Dhaka City Company District and was incorporated in November 1996. Since then, they have been working in a rented building in Nikunja-2 district of the capital.

Abu al-Sadat Muhammed Sim bin Said, subdivision engineer at Disco, told us that around 2013 when the company decided to have a place of its own and in 2014 they got permission from Rajuq (Rajdani Unayan Kartribkha) to build a new head office on the adjacent plot.

The company intends to construct a 12-storey commercial building for its head office. But what kind of building do they want?

Mr. Saeed said: “The plot is located directly on the Dhaka-Mymensingh Expressway and very close to Shah Jalal International Airport. Which means our office will be among the first few buildings that visitors will see. So we wanted to make a bold statement with the structure, a physical entity that would be a symbol of the company.”

With the idea of ​​finding such a design, Desco together with IAB (Institute of Architects, Bangladesh) organized a two-stage open architecture competition in 2016.

A low-curtain glass system was used to reduce heat and absorb sound. photo courtesy

“> A low-curtain glass system was used to reduce heat and absorb sound.  photo courtesy

A low-curtain glass system was used to reduce heat and absorb sound. photo courtesy

Six designs were selected from 69 applications for the final stage, with the design submitted by the Synthesis-Roofliners Consortium (now Roofliners – In Quest Consortium) emerged as the winner.

So, the final design is a commercial building with 12 floors and six basements. Construction began in June 2021 and the expected year of completion is 2024.

The estimated budget for the project is 300 cr. (approx).

Features of the new Desco building

The design evolved around a central courtyard – a common place for people to gather and enjoy the dramatic horizontal arrangements above – that connects the stunning free-flowing vertical space.

The changing mood and different patterns of daylight throughout the year were integral to the composition of the building’s main facade and shading device.

During the development of the design, three different scales appeared. The first is the urban scale around the plot. The building will stand on a busy highway and Shah Jalal International Airport is very close. This means that there will be a lot of noise around this building, and this building will also be one of the last buildings people will see before leaving or arriving in Dhaka.

The second is the adjacent scale, the community that lives around the building, which will have an everyday relationship with the building, along with its surroundings.

The third is the company itself. Desco – An energy related organization that wants to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

These three scales combined formed the final design of the building.

The two vertical buildings are built around a central courtyard and connected by bridges and green terraces. photo courtesy

“> The two vertical buildings are built around a central courtyard and connected by bridges and green terraces.  photo courtesy

The two vertical buildings are built around a central courtyard and connected by bridges and green terraces. photo courtesy

Top-down method

This is one of the few buildings in Bangladesh that will have many cellars. Instead of digging the entire six floors underground, the NDE follows a top-down method.

“Otherwise the foundations of the neighboring buildings could be affected. We first build the second basement and then we will gradually dig deeper and build the rest of the basements,” said Muhammad Habib Rahman, one of the NDE project coordinators. Work on a Desco project.

He said, “Building this many floors underground is difficult. But the NDE has modern equipment, so we are able to build this.”

He also said, “The NDE is on schedule and we have another two years to complete this project. We hope to have the construction finished by then.”

How does the building interact with the community

Rather than creating a deep-volume structure, the design team decided to tear the building into two, creating an opening in the middle, allowing airflow and a light, visible connection towards the adjacent community highway.

This partition in the middle brings abundant daylight and also reduces the cooling load.

The void in the middle of the structure also allows the incorporation of the multi-level horizontal bridges connecting the two buildings.

Angled corners reduce heat absorption

Instead of straight 90 degree angles, this building has 45 to 60 degree angles that allow a wider view of the neighbors and also act as a shade against the sun.

Seasonal trees and plants for landscaping

According to the architects, trees and local seasonal plants are used in the landscaping and are designed in such a way that each element will age over time and change its appearance.

It is a green building – in appearance and in practice

Being an energy related company, Desco wanted an energy efficient and environmentally friendly office, which would be a role model for other corporate offices.

“We used a double-glazed system for low blinds to reduce heat and absorb sound. This glass can withstand up to 35 decibels of sound,” said architect Monon.

Besides, there will be solar panels producing 72,500 kWh per year. The sewage treatment plant has the capacity to treat 122 cubic meters of sewage, which will treat the effluent and recycle the water for further flows.

The rainwater harvesting plant will collect 22 cubic meters of rain.

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