A Bangladeshi architect and educator, Marina Tabassum founded Dhaka-based Marina Tabassum Architects in 2005, after ten years 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.
As such, 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. Her Bait Ur Rouf Mosque is a case in point: built over several years with a minuscule budget, it is distinguished by its lack of popular mosque iconography, its emphasis on materials, space, and light, and its capacity to function not only as a place of worship but also as a centre for its underserved community on Dhaka’s periphery. The wide portfolio of work notwithstanding, 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 in Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Technical University, Delft, University of Texas at Arlington, BRAC University. She was bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate from Technical University of Munich. Her contribution in the field of architecture has brought her honors and accolades including Aga Khan Awards for Architecture, Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Gold Medal of the French Academy of Architecture, Soane Medal from Sir John Soane Museum, Jameel Prize from Victoria and Albert Museum.
Tabassum is engaged in fair-trade organization Prokritee as a Board member, empowering Bangladeshi women through the export of handcrafted objects, and has also initiated low-cost housing projects in villages surrounding eco-resort initiatives currently under construction in Southern Bangladesh.
She founded FACE, Bangladesh to seek out climate resilient living solutions for the victims vulnerable to climate change.