With ‘Bengal Stream’ S AM is the first museum worldwide to present an exhibition on Bangladesh’s architecture. In a chequered historical sequence of events, various trends have expressed themselves in different architectural ways, according to religious or socio-cultural developments. Nevertheless, many underlying motifs have held their ground in a typological sense for centuries and even represent a valid foundation for today’s architectural trends. Modernism also used these as a basis on which to build, whereby the most important local protagonist was Muzharul Islam. It was also in keeping with his personal identity, situated between localism and internationalism, to bring international protagonists like Paul Rudolph, Stanley Tigerman and ultimately Louis I. Kahn to Bangladesh for important construction projects. In ‘Bengal Stream’, original drawings by Muzharul Islam are exhibited for the first time outside of his native Bangladesh.
The main focus of this exhibition is on contemporary positions. Many of today’s protagonists were students, assistants or companions of Muzharul Islam and in recent decades they have formed an independent architecture scene to advance the societal and architectural concerns of their predecessors in a contemporary way. Again and again, it is this loose group who, despite dynamic global pressure to develop, collectively stand up for architectural values and for awareness of Bengali culture. The exhibition ‘Bengal Stream’ brings together over sixty projects by established and emerging architects in Bangladesh. One of the most internationally prominent architectural photographers, Iwan Baan, was brought in to document the projects.
Niklaus Graber, Andreas Ruby & Viviane Ehrensberger