Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban
1. Historical information
There have been eight national elections in
Bangladesh. The first and second Parliaments used the
Old Shangshad Bhaban, which currently serves as
the Prime Minister's Office.
Construction of the Jatiya Shangshad Bhaban began in
1961 by the
Government of Pakistan as a permanent building for
the federal legislature of both West and East
However, it was the eighth (and last) session of the
second parliament of Bangladesh that first used it on
February, 1982 after its construction was completed
January of the same year. The Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban
has been in operation and has acted as the sole complex
used as the National Assembly ever since.
The Jatiya Shangshad Bhaban was designed by the
American architect Louis Kahn.
- Beginning of construction: 1961
- Cost of construction and design:
crore or 1.29 billion (=1,290,000,000)
- Total area: 200 acres (800,000 mē)
- Number of Parliaments: 7 (seven)
- GIS coordinates: 23.762465°,90.378545°
3. History of use by
Seven Parliaments, including the currently incumbent
one led by
Khaleda Zia as the Prime Minister, have used the
Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban as the assembly building:
- Second Parliament: 2 years 11 months (2nd April,
1979 - 24th March, 1982)
- Third Parliament: 1 year 5 months (10th July,
1986 - 6th December, 1987)
- Fourth Parliament: 2 years 7 months (15th April,
1988 - 6th December, 1990)
- Fifth Parliament: 4 years 8 months (5th April,
1991 - 24th November, 1995)
- Sixth Parliament: 12 days (19th March, 1996 -
30th March, 1996)
- Seventh Parliament: 5 years (14th July, 1996 -
13th July, 2001)
- Eighth Parliament: 5 years (28th October, 2001 -
27th October, 2006)
4. Architecture and design
Close view of the building
Louis Kahn designed the entire Jatiyo Sangsad
complex, which includes lawns, lake and residences for
the Members of the Parliament (MPs).
4. 1. Location and basic
The enclave, situated in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, is
bounded by four major streets:
- Lake Road to the North;
- Rokeya Sarani to the East;
- Manik Mia Avenue to the South; and
- Mirpur Road to the West.
The main building (the Bhaban) is divided into three
- The Main Plaza: 823,000 square feet (76,000 mē)
- South Plaza: 223,000 square feet (21,000 mē)
- Presidential Plaza: 65,000 square feet (6,000
The main building is at the center of the complex.
The outer parts of the complex include the MP hostel. An
intricately designed lake surrounds the main building.
4. 2. Design philosophy
Kahn's key design philosophy optimizes the use of
space while representing Bangladeshi heritage and
culture. External lines are deeply recessed by porticoes
with huge openings of regular geometric shapes on their
exterior, shaping the building's overall visual impact.
In the architect
“ In the assembly I have introduced a light-giving
element to the interior of the plan. If you see a
series of columns you can say that the choice of
columns is a choice in light. The columns as solids
frame the spaces of light. Now think of it just in
reverse and think that the columns are hollow and
much bigger and that their walls can themselves give
light, then the voids are rooms, and the column is
the maker of light and can take on complex shapes
and be the supporter of spaces and give light to
spaces. I am working to develop the element to such
an extent that it becomes a poetic entity which has
its own beauty outside of its place in the
composition. In this way it becomes analogous to the
solid column I mentioned above as a giver of light.
It was not belief, not design, not pattern, but
the essence from which an institution could
- Source: Louis I. Kahn. from Heinz Ronner,
with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella Louis I.
Kahn: Complete Works 1935-74. p236, 238.
The lake on three sides of the Bhaban, extending up
to the Members' hostel adds to site's
and also portrays the riverine beauty of Bangladesh.
The assembly building received the
Aga Khan Award for Architecture in
4. 3. The Bhaban (Main
The Bhaban consists of nine individual blocks: the
eight peripheral blocks rise to a height of 110' while
the central octagonal block rises to a height of 155'.
All nine blocks include different groups of functional
spaces and have different levels, inter-linked
horizontally and vertically by corridors, lifts, stairs,
light courts, and circular areas. The entire structure
is designed to blend into one single, non-differentiable
unit, that appears from the exterior to be a single
The main committee rooms are located at level two in
one of the peripheral blocks. All parliamentary
functionaries, including Ministers and chairpersons of
some of the Standing Committees, have offices in the
Bhaban. The Parliament Secretariat also occupies offices
in the same building.
4. 3. 1. The Main Plaza
The most important part of the Main Plaza is the
Parliament Chamber, which can house up to 354 members
during sessions. There are also two podiums and two
galleries for VIP visitors. The Chamber has a maximum
height of 117' with a parabolic shell roof. The roof was
designed with a clearance of a single story to let in
daylight. Daylight, reflecting from the surrounding
walls and octagonal drum, filters into the Parliament
Chamber. The efficient and aesthetic use of light was a
strong architectural capability of Louis Kahn.
The artificial lighting system has been carefully
devised to provide zero obstruction to the entry of
daylight. A composite chandelier is suspended from
parabolic shell roof. This chandelier in turn consists
of a metallic web, spanning the entire chamber, that
supports the individual light fixtures.
Upper levels of the block (that contains the Chamber)
contain the visitor and press galleries, as well as
communication booths, all of which overlook the
Parliament Chamber. The block also contains:
- at level one, a library;
- at level three, MPs’ lounges; and
- at the upper level, party rooms.
4. 3. 2. The South Plaza
The South Plaza faces the Manik Mia Avenue. It
gradually rises to a 20' height and serves as a
beautiful exterior as well as the main entrance (used by
members during sessions) to the Parliament Building. It
- controlling gates;
- a driveway;
- a main mechanical plant room;
- a large car parking space;
- a telephone exchange;
- offices of maintenance engineers;
- equipment stores; and
- an open plaza with steps and ramps leading
directly to the main building.
4. 3. 3. Presidential
The Presidential Plaza lies to the North and faces
the Lake Road. It functions as an intimate plaza for the
MPs and other dignitaries. It contains marble steps, a
gallery and an open pavement.
5. Tourism and accessibility
Although entrance to the Bhaban, the Main Building,
is limited to authorized members of Parliament and
staff, the Jatiyo Sangshad complex is open to visitors.
On the North of complex, across the Lake Road, is
Uddan (also called Chondrima Uddan). The two
complexes together form a major attraction for tourists
in Dhaka. The complexes are popular among joggers and
skaters of Dhaka. The official Prime Minister's
Residence is on the North West corner of the Mirpur
Road and Lake Road crossing and is a five minute walk
from the Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban. The area is one of the
higher security zones of Dhaka.
The Complex can be accessed using any of the four
roads surrounding it, however, the Manik Mia Avenue and
Lake Road are the easiest approaches.