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Marina Tabassum Wins the 2024 ACSF Award For Outstanding Achievement

Marina Tabassum

Bangladeshi architect and educator Marina Tabassum is the 2024 Laureate for the ACSF Award for Outstanding Achievement. She founded Dhaka-based Marina Tabassum Architects (MTA) in 2005, after a decade as a partner and cofounder of URBANA in Dhaka. In her work, spanning from institutional to multi-residential to cultural, Tabassum seeks to establish a language of architecture that is contemporary yet reflectively rooted to place. Materials selection and environmental strategies play a major role in the definition of the building fabric, always against an ecological rubric containing climate, context, culture, history. For example, her Bait Ur Rouf Mosque–built over several years with a minuscule budget–emphasizes materials, space, light, and its capacity to function as a place of worship and as a center for its underserved community on Dhaka’s periphery. Tabassum’s practice remains consciously contained in size, undertaking a limited number of projects per year.

Tabassum is the Academic Director of the Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes, and Settlements, an intellectual platform for those involved in imagining and shaping environmental futures in the region. She has taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design; Technical University, Delft; and the University of Texas at Arlington. Her work has been recognized by the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal of the French Academy of Architecture, the Soane Medal from Sir John Soane Museum, and the Jameel Prize from Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Tabassum’s practice stands against the global pressure of consumer architecture that is out of place and context. Instead, her architecture is informed by climate and geography. MTA’s work is well regarded in the world as environmentally conscious, socially responsible, historically and culturally appropriate. Every project undertaken is a sensitive and relevant response to the uniqueness of individual site context, culture, and people. 
Besides building design, MTA invests in extensive research works on the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh, working closely with geographers, landscape architects, planners, and other allied professionals. To mark the ACSF award, Tabassum will deliver a lecture at ACSF’s 2024 symposium in Istanbul in June (visit https://acsforum.org/symposium/2024-symposium/  for more information on the event).

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