World’s best building award won by rainwater-harvesting hospital in rural Bangladesh

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The Guardian

Asmall brick hospital in rural Bangladesh with its own zigzagging canal has been named the best new building in the world, winning the RIBA international prize 2021. A model of climate-conscious design built with the bare minimum of resources, the Friendship hospital beat off competition from a gallery in Berlin by David Chipperfield, and a cycle and footbridge in Denmark by Wilkinson Eyre.

Located in Satkhira, in the waterlogged landscape of the Bengal in south-western Bangladesh, the winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ award used water as its chief starting point. The canal zigzags its way through the site, collecting valuable rainwater and helping to cool the surrounding courtyards during the sweltering summer months. It also serves as a barrier between the inpatient and outpatient departments, separating the two sides of the site across shared courtyards, without the need for a dividing wall.

“There is water everywhere here,” says architect Kashef Chowdhury, director of Urbana, the Dhaka-based practice behind the project. “But it’s not always the useful kind.” Rising sea levels caused by the climate crisis have meant that the surrounding landscape of grain fields has been transformed into shrimp fisheries, while the groundwater has become too saline to use for most purposes.

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