Manama Urban Forest, a project by “In Quest Design Studio” is published in international design magazine VOLUME ZERO. Photographed by Noufel Sharif Sojol (VERTICALS). 

photograph: Noufel Sharif Sojol
article: In Quest Design Studio

According to tradition, South facing building entrances are the best followed by East. West is considered to be the worst option as the low angle sun generates extreme heat which is a major problem for a humid tropical country like Bangladesh. But in present Urban context it is impossible to avoid West facing buildings. The same goes for our site. Hence for a healthy commercial space, ample natural light and view is necessary. Also with a Civic notion in mind, we want to contribute something to the neighboring area and to the city itself. Most importantly, not to create any sort of negative impact on nature. And so, our goal is to find a solution through indigenous ways with the help of our traditional knowledge of cohesive relation with nature.

Urban forest, a 10 storied commercial building with three basements located in a site area of 364sqm, is designed to create a secluded office environment within a busy urban context. The challenge of this west facing site is to reduce the cooling cost decreasing the west heat providing energy efficient solution. This introvert design consisting of 2730sqm built area, with a semi internal courtyard creating an interactive urban pocket along with peripheral pathways & green areas provides a soothing corporate environment inside. Because of the tight site condition, car lift was installed tor vehicular vertical movement.

The inner court is a gracefully composed space of elements such as water feature and vegetation. The void is the heart of the building which is complemented by the floating gardens above from various floors. It is a mass cut open to the city people creating a court of invitation. This court connects the building with the urban fabric making it an integral part of the city. The transition of the city-street to the building plaza steps to the inner court to the building interior is itself an experience for the users.

The court acts differently for its users and the visitors. For the visitors it’s a place of carnival through invitation. The people passing by the building can use the court as a breathing space. On the other hand, it acts as a place of inspiration for the users inside the building providing them with views and comfortable weather throughout the span of their stay.

The outer fabric of the court is thermally controlled while the inner fabric is composed of floating greens and clear glazing; thus making it a very friendly space for its users. As the project name suggests, it is a modern imitation of the urban forest. It’s not only for the users/visitors but also for birds. As there are various flower and fruit trees strategically placed at various levels that invites birds and insects to visit the court. There is enough opportunity for certain birds to even erect their very own nest here. Crazy as it sounds, it is an Urban Forest!

The nature of the court being an open one puts the whole project in an advantageous position as it helps create the perfect aid in Hot-humid climate of Bangladesh. The court invites cool air to funnel through and kiss the inner glazing surfaces making them cooler as it travels further up. As the court is open to sky, it allows the warm air to travel all the way up to the top; thus avoiding the possibility of being trapped inside.

One can feel the green while stepping into the building periphery through the plaza steps which leads into the inner court. The north boundary wall of the court has a beautiful wall-scape of combination of water fountain and planters. In the heart of the court there are large planter boxes that hold beautiful plantation. Leading further forward, there is another planter box just ahead of the reception entry at the very end of the court. There are small gardens floating in various levels of the building facing the court as well. And a roof garden to top them all. In total the building offers various flavors of greeneries all throughout.

The building itself creates an Urban face to the society. It proudly stands out from the rest of the surrounding building blocks in a unique way. Weather experienced closely or from other buildings, it leaves a graceful memory to its users/viewers. Passing through the building, one can gasp the breath of fresh air it offers. The open building plaza welcomes its users gleefully to make a mark on any given day. Once experienced the plaza steps, one enters the building envelop through the beautiful 16.75m high Urban entrance which leads one to the unique experience ahead. Thus the building contributes to the society in its own merry way.

The choice of material in this building is vastly influenced by the climatic contemplations. Issues such as energy efficiency, response to climate, maintenance free, ecological sustainability, thermal response are addressed here. The Solid façade is finished through unfired flexi clay cladding making it more environment friendly than typical plaster and paint finishes. This particular cladding is made of modified clay material and stone powder that is environmentally safe, recyclable and fireproof. The glazing surfaces are shielded through WPC (wood plastic composite) louvers. Heat absorption thus decreases vastly on the glazing surfaces keeping the interior cool.

The West and South façade of the building is composed in a methodical way through the mixture of opaque, translucent and transparent surface. Whenever there is an opening in the West and South façade, it is combined with WPC louvers. The floating bridges from the sixth floor and above crafts a thermal mass that shields the direct west heat. This also cools the inner court.

Year : 2014-2018
Architects : In Quest Design Studio
Location : Plot No. 108, Road-12, Block-E, Banani, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Website :

4 thoughts on Manama Urban Forest, a project by “In Quest Design Studio” is published in international design magazine VOLUME ZERO. Photographed by Noufel Sharif Sojol (VERTICALS). 

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