new contextualism

Exploring New Contextualism : an approach to Architecture and Urban Design

Exploring New Contextualism : an approach to Architecture and Urban Design

New Contextualism , coined by Mohammad Habib Reza, is an architectural philosophy that addresses the limitations of Modernism and Postmodernism by strongly emphasizing the role of the broader context in design. It acknowledges the intricacies and diversity of the present-day world and strives to create designs that are both timeless and responsive to future demands.

This philosophy emerged at BRAC University, where some students embraced it as their core belief and began implementing it as an approach to architecture and urban design. Over a decade, it has been refined and expanded towards an inclusive approach incorporating ideas from various disciplines.

On 10th June 2023, Saturday a daylong workshop held at School of Architecture and Design, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The workshop had two parts. One is  lecture series and other is Hand-on exercise. Lecture Topics and it’s presenter was:

  • Introduction to New Contextualism and its principles = Mohammad Habib Reza
  • Understanding the context and its influence on design decisions = S M Kaikobad
  • Case Studies of successful New Contextual Projects: in studios and Beyond = Mohammad Zillur Rahman
  • New Contextual approach in global practice = Tanjina Khan
  • Possibilities and Challenges of The New Contextual Approach = MD. Samiur Rahman Bhuiyan

Introduction to New Contextualism and its principles

This session will introduce the concept of “new Contextualism” as a potential solution to these limitations of contemporary architectural practices. New Contextualism seeks to balance universal and particular design elements, rooting an architecture in its context while transcending it to reach a broader audience. It will further define and explores the principles of new Contextualism, which include forward-thinking design; informed by accurate predictions of the future; a deep understanding of the past and its trends; recognition of the broad and multifaceted meaning of context; and a focus on equity and justice through inclusive and diverse designs. It is believed that by embracing these principles, designers can create built environments that are meaningful, inclusive, and adaptable to changing needs and desires, addressing the challenges of the 21st century and creating a better world for future generations.

New Contextualism

Mohammad Habib Reza

Mohammad Habib Reza is an accomplished architect, urban designer and heritage expert renowned for his expertise in New Contextualism. With a passion for integrating cultural heritage, architectural design, and sustainable development, Reza has dedicated his career to redefining the relationship between architecture and its context.

Reza holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Architecture and has extensive experience in Cultural Heritage and Heritage Management. As an Associate Professor at BRAC University, Bangladesh, and a former academic at esteemed institutions such as the State University of Bangladesh and Nottingham Trent University, UK, Reza brings knowledge and practical insights to his workshops.

the State University of Bangladesh and Nottingham Trent University, UK, Reza brings a wealth of knowledge and practical insights to his workshops.


Understanding the context and its influence on design decisions

Context plays a pivotal role in creating meaningful and responsive designs. This session will focus on the importance of understanding the context in architecture and urban design. Participants will gain insights into how site-specific factors influence design decisions, fostering a deeper appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between design and context.

New Contextualism

S M Kaikobad

Kaikobad is an educator and practitioner with comprehensive architectural experience. He is a lecturer at the Department of Architecture, BRAC University, and a co-founder and principal of Design Studio “ShohoSthapon,”. His research interest includes informal Urbanism, Urban Heritage and Community Resilience. He attended several international conferences and voluntarily contributed to community projects. He received several awards and recognitions since his Bachelor of Architecture from BRAC University.


Case Studies of Projects under New Contextualism: in studios and Beyond

Drawing inspiration from real-world examples, this presentation will explore case studies of successful New Contextualist projects. Through these examples, it will analyse how context was interpreted, integrated, and transformed into design solutions. By studying these projects, participants will gain practical insights into applying New Contextualism principles in their work.

New Contextualism

Mohammad Zillur Rahman

Mohammad Zillur Rahman is a Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at BRAC University. He is a practicing architect and interior designer with a strong focus on urban design. He holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and is a co-founder and architect-partner at STUDIO PLANT. Zillur’s research interests encompass architectural design thinking, building technology, and the public use of transportation and walk-ability.

The New contextual approach in global practice

Contextual design is not limited to specific regions but has a global presence. This session will delve into how the components of the New Contextual approach can be traceable across different cultural and geographic contexts. This presentation will include diverse examples of global practice, gaining a broader perspective on the versatility and adaptability of New Contextualism.

New Contextualism

Tanjina Khan

Tanjina Khan is an Assistant Professor, architect, and sustainability advocate at BRAC University. She holds a Master of Design Science in Sustainable Design and Building Services from the University of Sydney, Australia. With expertise in sustainable urban design and environmental design, Tanjina has been recognized with awards, including the ‘Endeavor Postgraduate Award’ from the Australian Government.

Possibilities and Challenges of the New Contextualism Approach

While the New Contextual approach offers immense potential, it presents particular challenges. In this session, we will engage in discussions on the possibilities and limitations of New Contextualism. By critically examining the approach, participants will comprehensively understand its strengths and explore strategies to address its challenges effectively.

New Contextualism

MD. Samiur Rahman Bhuiyan

Samiur is an architect and aspiring sustainability professional, currently teaching as Lecturer at Brac University. He pursued his graduate degree from the National University of Singapore as Kimberly-Clark Scholar. He is also an architecture alumnus and Vice-Chancellor’s medalist from Brac University.

New Contextualism : Hands-on Group Activity

A spontaneous group activity was done by both the students and faculty of the school.


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