Acclaimed Dutch designer Frank Tjepkema (Tjep), has revealed a partnership with development organisation Solidaridad Network, to help Bangladesh villages modernise their infrastructure by designing Village Super Markets. Tjepkema worked with local Bangladeshi firm Vaastukalpa Architects alongside local craftspeople and builders on the project, which aims to improve trade, working, and living conditions for local farmers disadvantaged by the confines of rural living.
The first of these spaces is located in the district of Khulna, the third-largest city in Bangladesh. A sprawling, 6,871 sq m hub contains a bazaar marketplace, alongside facilities catering to modern teaching, education and community, including a new ‘tech village’, which features state-of-the-art food processing and cooling technology.
The three organisations worked closely to produce the pavilion, which provides smallholder farmers, disadvantaged workers and women with a new platform to work and sell their produce. Ever-developing worldwide food standards have made it difficult for these often sidelined communities to sell their produce to wholesalers – an issue that Solidaridad Network is keen to change.
‘I first came across Frank Tjepkema when he created this stand-out sustainable farming-entertainment concept “Oogst”,’ states Solidaridad's international programme coordinator Daniel Koop, who was tasked with contacting Tjepkema. ‘I was intrigued how a designer approached topics like agricultural development and sustainable economics from a completely fresh angle.’
Tjepkema embarked on several research trips across Bangladesh to understand and conceptualise key elements for the market’s design. Traditional ‘Arots', small wooden huts traditionally used by Bangladeshi market traders, now house the farmer's stall, and flank the central walkway in the main market. He was especially keen to reference traditional, and local, artisanal skills throughout.
‘I wanted the ancient skill of red brick-making to be featured proudly, using traditional techniques of delta-sourced red-kiln production combined with locally sourced bamboo,' he explains. ‘The result is an outstanding testament to the beauty of these long-established but often underused regional techniques’. Of course, some Tjep-esque influences are celebrated here, too, like a Dutch clock gable on the pedestrian entrance.
With the next facility slated to open later this year in Jessore, (and more to come in Bagherat, Satkhira and Narial), Tjep and Vaastukalpa Architects are on a valuable mission to prove that community-focused design can play a large part in agricultural, sustainable, and economical progress, particularly in rural areas. ‘The total complex works like a village,’ says project architect Rob van Houten of Tjep. ‘Accessible for all visitors, farmers and merchants alike.’
For more information, visit the Tjep website
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