Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban

Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban
জাতীয় সংসদ ভবন
General information
Type National Assembly Building
Architectural style Modern, Monumental
Location Dhaka, Bangladesh
Construction started 1961
Completed 1982
Cost US$32 million[1]
Technical details
Structural system Reinforced concrete, Brickwork
Design and construction
Architect Louis Kahn
Muzharul Islam (co architect)

Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban or National Parliament House, (Bengali: জাতীয় সংসদ ভবন Jatiyô Sôngsôd Bhôbôn) is the house of the Parliament of Bangladesh, located at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka. Designed by architect Louis Kahn, the complex, is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world, comprising 200 acres (800,000 m²)[1]

The building was featured prominently in the 2003 film My Architect, detailing the career and familial legacy of its architect, Louis Kahn. Robert McCarter, author of Louis I. Kahn, described the National Parliament of Bangladesh as one of the twentieth century's most significant buildings.[2]


Play of light inside the building

Before its completion, the first and second Parliaments used the Old Shangshad Bhaban, which currently serves as the Prime Minister's Office.

Construction was started in 1961 when Bangladesh was East Pakistan, led by Ayub Khan from the West Pakistan capital of Islamabad. As part of his efforts to decrease the disparity and secessionist tendencies of East Pakistan, Khan aimed to make Dhaka a second capital, with appropriate facilities for an assembly.[3]

Jatiyo Sangshad was designed by Louis Kahn. The government sought assistance from South Asian activist and architect Muzharul Islam who recommended bringing in the world's top architects for the project. He initially attempted to bring Alvar Aalto and Le Corbusier, who were both were unavailable at the time. Islam then enlisted his former teacher at Yale, Louis Kahn.[3]

Construction was halted during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and was completed on 28 January 1982. Kahn died when the project was approximately three-quarters completed and it continued under David Wisdom, who worked for Kahn.[3]

History of use by Parliament

Seven Parliaments have used the Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban as the assembly building:

  1. Second Parliament: 2 years 11 months (2 April 1979 – 24 March 1982)
  2. Third Parliament: 1 year 5 months (10 July 1986 – 6 December 1987)
  3. Fourth Parliament: 2 years 7 months (15 April 1988 – 6 December 1990)
  4. Fifth Parliament: 4 years 8 months (5 April 1991 – 24 November 1995)
  5. Sixth Parliament: 12 days (19 March 1996 – 30 March 1996)
  6. Seventh Parliament: 5 years (14 July 1996 – 13 July 2001)
  7. Eighth Parliament: 5 years (28 October 2001 – 27 October 2006)
  8. Ninth Parliament: 5 years ( April 2009 – 4 May 2014)
  9. Ten Parliament : Running

Architecture and design

Louis Kahn designed the entire Jatiyo Sangsad complex, which includes lawns, lake and residences for the Members of the Parliament (MPs). The architect’s key design philosophy was to represent Bangladeshi culture and heritage, while at the same time optimizing the use of space. The exterior of the building is striking in its simplicity, with huge walls deeply recessed by porticoes and large openings of regular geometric shapes. The main building, which is at the center of the complex, is divided into three parts – the Main Plaza, South Plaza and Presidential Plaza. An artificial lake surrounds three sides of the main building of Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban, extending to the Members of Parliament hostel complex. This skillful use of water to portray the riverine beauty of Bangladesh adds to the aesthetic value of the site.[4]

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 Louis Kahn's own words:

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 emerge...[5]

The lake on three sides of the Bhaban, extending up to the Members' hostel adds to site's aesthetics and also portrays the riverine beauty of Bangladesh.

The assembly building received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989.[6]

The Bhaban (Main Building) design

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.[7] The entire structure is designed to blend into one single, non-differentiable unit, that appears from the exterior to be a single story.

The main committee rooms are located at level two in one of the peripheral blocks. All parliamentary functionaries, including Ministers and chairpersons of some Standing Committees, have offices in the Bhaban. The Parliament Secretariat also occupies offices in the same building.[7]

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.[7] 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:

Panoramic view of Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban

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 contains:

Presidential Plaza

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.

Other information

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. North of the complex, across the Lake Road, is Crescent Lake and Chandrima 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.

Current developments

During the government term that took office on 28 October 2001, the Government communicated plans to "complete Louis Kahn's plans" by constructing residences for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. According to some prominent architects, no such plan existed in the original design. Although the construction was started, it was halted and the issue is still unresolved.


  1. 1 2 "Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban". banglapedia.org.
  2. McCarter, Robert (2005). Louis I. Kahn. London: Phaidon Press. p. 258,270. ISBN 0-7148-4045-9.
  3. 1 2 3 "Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban (National Parliament House), Bangladesh". londoni.co. 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  4. "The Grand Architecture of Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban – Bangladesh Blog – By Bangladesh Channel". bangladesh.com.
  5. Source: Louis I. Kahn. from Heinz Ronner, with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella Louis I. Kahn: Complete Works 1935–74. pp 236, 238.
  6. James-Chakraborty, Kathleen (2014). "Reinforced concrete in Louis Kahn's National Assembly, Dhaka: Modernity and modernism in Bangladeshi architecture". Frontiers of Architectural Research. 3: 81–88. doi:10.1016/j.foar.2014.01.003.
  7. 1 2 3 4 User, Super. "History and Building".
  8. "Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban". checkonsite.com.


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Coordinates: 23°45′45″N 90°22′43″E / 23.7625°N 90.3785°E / 23.7625; 90.3785

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