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Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban

From Academic Kids

Jātiyo Sangshad Bhaban is the National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, located in the capital Dhaka. It is an architectural masterpiece and one of the largest legislative complexes in the World. It houses all parlimentary activities of Bangladesh.

Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban
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Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban
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Historical information

There have been eight national elections in Bangladesh. The first and second Parliaments created as a result of the respective elections used the old Sangsad Bhaban, which is currently the Prime Minister's Office.

The current Shangsad Bhaban was constructed and put into use by the second Parliament. Construction was completed on 28th January, 1982 and the eighth, and last, session of the second Parliment commenced in the building on 15th February of the same year. The Jatiya Shangsad Bhaban has been in operation and has acted as the sole complex used as the National Assembly ever since.

Data

  • Beginning of construction: 1961
  • Cost of construction and design: Tk. 129 crore or 1.29 billion (=1,290,000,000)
  • Inaugration: 28th January, 1982
  • Architect: Louis I. Kahn
  • Total area: 200 acres (800,000 m²)
  • Location: Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka
  • Number of Parliaments: 7 (seven)

Parliament history

Seven Parliaments, including the currently incumbent one led by Begum Khaleda Zia as the Prime Minister, have used the Jatiyo Shangsad Bhaban as the assembly building. A list of all the past Parliaments follows:

  1. First Parliament: 2 years 6 months (7th April, 1973 - 6th November, 1975) held by Awami League
  2. Second Parliament: 2 years 11 months (2nd April, 1979 - 24th March, 1982) held by Bangladesh Nationalist Party
  3. Third Parliament: 1 year 5 months (10th July, 1986 - 6th December, 1987) held by Jatiya Party
  4. Fourth Parliament: 2 years 7 months (15th April, 1988 - 6th December, 1990) held by Jatiya Party
  5. Fifth Parliament: 4 years 8 months (5th April, 1991 - 24th November, 1995) held by Bangladesh Nationalist Party
  6. Sixth Parliament: 12 days (19th March, 1996 - 30th March, 1996) held by Bangladesh Nationalist Party
  7. Seventh Parliament: 5 years (14th July, 1996 - 13th July, 2001) held by Awami League
  8. Eighth Parliament: (28th October, 2001 - ) held by Four-party Alliance led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party

Of these, the first was the only one to have never used the Jātiyo Sangsad Bhaban. Each Parliament was led by a Prime Minister.

Architecture and design

Among buildings in use as National Assembly, the Jātiyo Sangshad Bhaban is one of the best designed and most spacious. The building houses all likely requirements of a Parliament and yet pays very careful attention to aesthetics. One of the best aspect of the architecture is the way the entire building appears to be one huge structure from the exterior but is internally organised into several storeys and wings.

Louis Kahn also designed the rest of the complex. The Jātiyo Sangshad Bhaban is a part of the entire Jātiyo Sangshad complex, which includes lawns, lake and residence for the Members of the Parliament (MPs).

Location and basic layout

The enclave, situated in Sher-e-Bānglā Nagar, is bound by four major streets:

  • Lake Road to the North;
  • Rokeyā Sarani to the East;
  • Mānik Miā Avenue to the South; and
  • Mirpur Road to the West.

As a result, the complex is well accessible and manageable (during parlimentary sessions).

The main building (the Bhaban) is divided into three parts:

  1. The Main Plaza: 8,23,000 square feet (76,000 m²)
  2. South Plaza: 2,23,000 square feet (21,000 m²)
  3. Presidential Plaza: 65,000 square feet (6,000 m²)

The main building is at the centre of the complex. The outer parts of the complex include the MP hostel and buildings for emergency facilities. The gap in between is filled with an intricately designed lake, surrounding the main building, and two lawns.

Design philosophy

The key design philosophy was optimum use of space but clearly representing Bangladeshi heritage and culture through the architecture. The architecture evolved from the basic human requirement of protection from the glare and fury of nature.

These has been achieved by organisation of the enclave into different groups of buildings. External lines are deeply recessed by porticoes with huge openings of regular geometric shapes on their exterior, forming the outer visual impact of the building. Thus need to provide traditional protection for external windows has been removed while adding compositional effect of these huge openings which befits buildings of huge scale.

In the architect Louis Kahn's own words:

In the assembly I have introduced a light-giving element to the interior of the plan. If you see a series of columns you can say that the choice of columns is a choice in light. The columns as solids frame the spaces of light. Now think of it just in reverse and think that the columns are hollow and much bigger and that their walls can themselves give light, then the voids are rooms, and the column is the maker of light and can take on complex shapes and be the supporter of spaces and give light to spaces. I am working to develop the element to such an extent that it becomes a poetic entity which has its own beauty outside of its place in the composition. In this way it becomes analogous to the solid column I mentioned above as a giver of light. It was not belief, not design, not pattern, but the essence from which an institution could emerge...
Source: Louis I. Kahn. from Heinz Ronner, with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella Louis I. Kahn: Complete Works 1935-74. p236, 238.

The lake on three sides of the Bhaban, extending up to he Members' hostel not only add to aesthetics but also potray the riverine beauty of Bangladesh.

The Bhaban (Main Building) Design

The Bhaban consists of nine individual blocks: the eight peripheral blocks rise to a height of 110' while the central octagonal block rises to a height of 155'. All of the nine blocks include different groups of functional spaces and have different levels, inter-linked horizontally and vertically by the use of corridors, lifts, stairs, light courts and circular areas. The entire structure is carefully designed to blend into one single, indifferentiable unit, that appears to be one single block containing a single storey from the exterior!

The main committee rooms are located at level two in one of the peripheral blocks. All parliamentary functionaries, including Ministers and chairpersons of some of the Standing Committees, have offices in the Bhaban. The Parliament Secretariat also occupies offices in the same building.

The Main Plaza

The most important part of the Main Plaza is obviously the Parliament Chamber, which can house 354 members during sessions. Ther are also two podiums and two galleries for VIP visitors. The Chamber has a maximum height of 117' with a parabolic shell roof. The roof was designed with a clearance of a single storey to let in daylight. The daylight, which reflects from the surrounding walls and octagonal drum, filters into the Parliament Chamber. (The efficient and aesthetic use of light was seen as a strong architectural capability of Louis Kahn.)

The artificial lighting system has been carefully devised to provide zero obstruction to the entry of daylight. A composite chandelier is suspented from parabolic shell roof. This chandelier in turn consists of a metallic web, spanning the entire chamber, that supports the individual light fixtures.

Upper levels of the block (that contains the Chamber) contain the visitors’ and press galleries, as well as communication booths, all of which overlook the Parliament Chamber. The block also contains:

  • at level one, a library;
  • at level three, MPs’ lounges; and
  • at the upper level, party rooms.

The South Plaza

The South Plaza faces the Lake Road. It gradually rises to a 20' height and serves as a beautiful exterior as well as the main entrance (used by members during sessions) to the Parliament Building. It contains:

  • controlling gates;
  • a driveway;
  • a main mechanical plant room;
  • a large car parking space;
  • a telephone exchange;
  • offices of maintenance engineers;
  • equipment stores; and
  • an open plaza with steps and ramps leading directly to the main building.

Presidential Plaza

The Presidential Plaza lies to the North and faces the Mānik Miā Avenue. It functions as an intimate plaza for the MPs and other dignitaries. It contains marble steps, a gallery and an open pavement.

Tourism and accessibility

Although entrance to the Bhaban, the Main Building, is prohibited to unauthorised personnel, the Jātiyo Sangshad complex is open to visitors. On the North of complex, across the Lake Road, is Crescent Lake and Ziā Uddān (also called Chondrimā Uddān). The two complexes together form a major attraction for tourists in Dhaka. The complexes are extremely popular among joggers and skaters of Dhaka. It is worth mentioning that the official Prime Minister's Residence is on the North West corner of the Mirpur Road and Lake Road crossing and is five minutes walking distance away from the Jātiyo Sangshad Bhaban. The area is considered one of the high security zones of Dhaka and is always under police surveillance.

The Complex can be accessed using all the four roads surrounding it. However, it is particularly easier to use either the Mānik Miā Avenue or the Lake Road.

Current developments

One recent issue was created during the regime of the current Government that took office on 28th October, 2001. Soon after its election to power, the Government brought out plans to "complete Louis Kahns plans" by constructing residences for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. According to some prominent architects, no such plan was there in the original design and any further construction on the complex are likely to be deterrent to the aesthetics of the site. Although the construction was started, due to the debate, it was put on a halt. The issue is on-going and still unresolved.

External links

Bangladesh Parliament Legislative Information Centre (http://www.parliamentofbangladesh.org/general-15.html)

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