The 80-bed community hospital, located in Satkhira, a remote rural area in south-west Bangladesh, was designed by Bangladeshi architectural practice Kashef Chowdhury/Urbana.
Completed in 2018, the low-cost building was designed in a way that works with the surrounding landscape, which, owing to rising sea levels, changed from grain fields to shrimp fisheries. The architect used the surrounding water to create a rainwater-collecting canal, which also creatively separates inpatient and outpatient departments.
Not only does this channel of water help with microclimatic cooling, it also provides a visual relief for patients and visitors. A series of courtyards also provide natural light and ventilation within the space.
The Friendship Hospital was chosen from a shortlist of three exceptional new buildings, by a jury chaired by world-renowned French architect Odile Decq.
“Friendship Hospital embodies an architecture of humanity and protection that reflects the Friendship NGO’s philanthropic mission to provide dignity and hope to communities through social innovation," Decq said. "Kashef Chowdhury/Urbana has achieved a building designed with a human touch which is deftly integrated with its surroundings and celebrates local, and traditional crafted materials.
"The hospital is very relevant to critical global challenges, such as unequal access to healthcare and the crushing impact of climate breakdown on vulnerable communities. It is a demonstration of how beautiful architecture can be achieved through good design when working with a relatively modest budget and with difficult contextual constraints. This hospital is a celebration of a building dedicated to humans.”
This is not the first time Chowdhury has been recognised for his designs. In 2016, he was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Friendship Centre, a rural training and community centre established by a Bangladeshi NGO. The building was constructed and finished primarily with only one material, local handmade brick.
The Riba International Prize, awarded every two years to a building that exemplifies design excellence with meaningful social impact, is one of the world’s most rigorously judged architectural awards, with every nominated building visited by international experts.
Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of the nominees for the Riba International Prize 2021: