German architect Anna Heringer’s Anandaloy project – a community centre in rural Bangladesh has been awarded the 2020 Obel Award, a new and international prize for architectural achievement presented annually by the Henrik Frode Obel Foundation, founded by Henrik Frode Obel.
Anna Heringer is the second architect receiving this prestigious prize after Japanese architect Junya Ishigami won the prize with the Art Biotop Water Garden in Japan last year.
The aim of the award is to honour recent and outstanding architectural contributions to human development all over the world.
The award is given to works or projects from the past five years. It can be given to an architect or group of architects, and the award-winning project can range from a manifesto to a masterplan and include buildings, landscape projects, and exhibitions.
Surrounded by lush green paddy fields in northern Bangladesh stands a curving building in two storeys built out of mud and bamboo. The mud walls curve and dance, and a big ramp winds up to the first floor. Below the ramp are caves that provide either a fun place to move around or a quiet space if you a need for a moment to feel protected and embraced.
The project named Anandaloy, means ‘The Place of Deep Joy’ in the local dialect of Bangla/Bengali.
This unconventional, multifunctional building hosts a therapy centre for people with disabilities on the ground floor and a textile studio on the top floor producing fair fashion and art.
The Anandaloy building is not only a spatial solution to a number of both basic and specific human needs, the project as a whole is a multi-layered response to the challenge of mending by cleverly interweaving sustainable, social, and architectural design.
As Anna Heringer herself describes the role of her profession: “Architecture is a tool to improve lives.“
Anandaloy, which means Place of Deep Joy, hosts a therapy centre for people with disabilities (pwd) on the ground floor, combined with a fair-trade textile manufacturing workshop for local women on the first floor.
Architecturally, the building explores the plastic abilities of bamboo and rammed earth in order to create a stronger identity and thereby to celebrate nonconformity and diversity. Rather than being straight-lined, the building dances in curves, a ramp winding playfully around its inner structure.
Constructed from only local materials and with the know-how of local craftsmanship, the Anandaloy project respects the local culture and tradition, and from a very simple design and subtle approach still manages to integrate a diverse range of both human needs and programmatic abilities without damage to the environment.
“There are a lot of resources given by nature for free – all we need is our sensitivity to see them and our creativity to use them.” – Anna Heringer