Blending Architecture with Nature at Nishorgo Oirabot

The Nishorgo Oirabot Nature Interpretation Center, located in the Chittagong Division, aims to promote conservation, eco-tourism and an appreciation for the incredible biodiversity found in this region of Bangladesh. The name Nishorgo is taken from the Bengali word for environment, capturing the main concept of the project, that of cherishing nature and the natural environment. In fulfilling the project’s commitment of having as little impact as possible on the environment, the building’s concrete slabs are built around existing trees and are supported by structural walls giving the pavilion shelter the impression of floating above the ground.

In addition to the flights of steps leading to the pavilion shelter and observation platform, the center has a gently inclining ramp for visitors with restricted mobility. Below the ramp is a large pond, and the entire area is covered in tall trees creating a canopy above while not restricting the view. The red face-brick and concrete of the building blends in well with the surroundings and the exhibition room on the first floor has timber louvers virtually all the way around, allowing natural light to enter the room and offering visitors the feeling of being part of the tranquil environment. Large interpretive boards detail the wildlife found in the area, as well providing information of the history and culture of Bangladesh. Most notable is the display of the intricately decorated butterflies visitors are likely to see when exploring the reserve.

The Nishorgo Oirabot Nature Interpretation Centre was designed by Bangladeshi architectural firm Vitti Sthapati Brindo Ltd for the Bangladesh Ministry of Environment and Forests, and was shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established in 1977 by Aga Khan IV with the objective of identifying innovative architectural concepts that meet certain specifications. Presented every three years, the award focuses on architecture in Islamic societies in the fields of community development and improvement, improvement of the environment, landscape design, area conservation, social housing and contemporary design. Aga Khan Award-winning projects in Bangladesh includethe Grameen Bank Housing Program, the National Assembly Building in Dhaka and the METI Handmade School in Rudrapur.