Marina Tabassum

Visiting Professor, 2022-2023 Gehry Chair

Bangladeshi architect and educator Marina Tabassum founded Dhaka-based Marina Tabassum Architects (MTA) in 2005. For a decade before that, she had been a partner and cofounder of URBANA in Dhaka.

Through her work, which spans institutional, cultural and multi-residential projects, Tabassum seeks to establish a language of architecture that is contemporary yet reflectively rooted to place. To that end, 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 and history.

Her Bait ur Rouf Jame 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.

In addition to her design work, 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 the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, TU Delft, the University of Texas at Arlington and BRAC University. And she has been recognized with numerous accolades and honours for her work.

In 2016, Tabassum was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Bait ur Rouf Mosque. In 2021, she received the prestigious Soane Medal, which recognizes the work of architects, educators or critics who have furthered the public’s understanding of architecture. Tabassum has also received an Honorary Doctorate from Technical University of Munich, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Gold Medal of the French Academy of Architecture.

Tabassum is engaged in the fair-trade organization Prokritee as a board member, empowering Bangladeshi women through the export of handcrafted objects, and has initiated low-cost housing projects in villages surrounding eco-resort initiatives currently under construction in southern Bangladesh.

She also founded FACE Bangladesh to explore climate-resilient living solutions for people who are vulnerable to climate change.