A HANDLOOM RESEARCH AND TRAINING CENTRE
A young architect interested in research-based design to provide community-driven solutions.
Handloom, a craft from ancient times, brought forth one of the largest industries in Bangladesh. Despite having been a special contributor to its economy, this field has been languishing. From the clattering kotkoti taat (drawloom) to the painstaking komor taat (backstrap loom), it is an integral part of the culture that is seen to be overshadowed by more speedy and mechanical processes.
Backstrap loom, also known as Bain, is a tradition that was once taught from generation to generation, since the 1500s when different ethnic groups started settling in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The indigenous community wove their own clothes but as the Bengali population rose in these areas, the Bengali costumes started being favored instead of the indigenous ones. Consequently, Bain slowly became a skill not honed by many. While the newer generations are losing touch with Bain, the older generation of weavers are giving up on it due to the intense labor it requires, the low economic pay-off, as well as the problems they have marketing it.
The act of weaving is a social activity as much as it is a cultural one. From weaving during the Buddhist festival of ‘kathin chibar daan' to weaving in raised bamboo decks while chatting with the neighbors, it can practically be seen as an extension of socialization. In this design, the web of bamboo decks has been incorporated into the public zones as a nod to the traditional building typologies which in turn enhances the social element of the space. The utilization of native building methods and indigenous materials makes this a sustainable solution that prevents cultural extinction. The ultimate goal goes far beyond the initial aim of ensuring a livelihood for many. It's about keeping the culture alive through these efforts so that its value as an art form is re-established.