Asian University for Women

Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2009 / Asia / Health & Education

The campus of the Asian University for Women was conceived in the spirit of the small hillside towns in the Chittagong region of Bangladesh. The unique characteristics of the site – a series of tightly formed valleys and ridges – provided the inspiration for the campus master plan.

A sequence of continuous stepped courtyards and water basins placed in the valley act as the principle organizing element for academic buildings. The residential facilities follow the natural contour lines atop the ridges, reinforcing the natural topography and creating a cornice line for the campus.

This approach allows the academic buildings to benefit from the increased shade of being in the valley while the residential buildings, perched on the hilltops, take advantage of the prevailing evening winds for natural ventilation and cooling.

Students, faculty, and administration traverse between the upper residential campus and the academic campus 40 meters below through a series of conveniently placed circulation towers situated along the main spine of the campus. To facilitate and encourage interaction between students, faculty and the surrounding community small lounges are placed at each of the circulation towers. Meandering trails and short runs of landscape stairs and terraces form an informal network of paths across the 140-acre site.

Indigenous building materials, the incorporation of shading elements and the integration of water and plant life in the buildings – all common themes in the architecture of the region – form the framework for the syntax of the architecture.

Envisioned as a model of environmental sustainability in the region, the campus employs numerous strategies including natural ventilation, daylighting, high thermal mass construction, hillside stabilization, and mass re-vegetation aimed at reducing energy consumption and conserving water resources.