The Friendship Hospital in Bangladesh by Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA has won the RIBA International Prize 2021 for world’s best new building.


The 80-bed hospital designed by Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA for the NGO Friendship is located in a rural area of south-west Bangladesh that was badly affected by a cyclone several years ago. The architecture embraces the watery landscape with a design intended to be resilient to the rising water levels.

The building, made from local and low-cost brick, is cut through by a series of courtyards that light and ventilate the spaces within, and a canal that separates the inpatient and outpatient services.

“In a sublimely important moment, RIBA and the jurors have identified a project from the global periphery to bring to the centre of architectural discourse and be the subject of one of the most important global awards,” said Kashef Chowdhury on receipt of the award.

“I am encouraged that this may inspire more of us to commit, not in spite of, but because of limitations of resources and means, to an architecture of care both for humanity and for nature, to rise collectively to the urgencies that we face today on a planetary scale.”

The Friendship Hospital was selected as the overall winner from a shortlist of three projects vying for the award, which also included the James-Simon-Galerie in Berlin by David Chipperfield Architects and the Lille Langebro bridge in Copenhagen by WilkinsonEyre and Urban Agency.

“Friendship Hospital embodies an architecture of humanity and protection that reflects the Friendship NGO’s philanthropic mission to provide dignity and hope to communities through social innovation. Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA has achieved a building designed with a human touch which is deftly integrated with its surroundings and celebrates local, and traditional crafted materials,” said Odile Decq, Chair of the RIBA International Prize Grand Jury.

“The hospital is relevant to critical global challenges, such as unequal access to healthcare and the crushing impact of climate breakdown on vulnerable communities. It is a demonstration of how beautiful architecture can be achieved through good design when working with a relatively modest budget and with difficult contextual constraints. This hospital is a celebration of a building dedicated to humans.”

“Friendship Hospital is an exemplar of thoughtful and creative design of a building of great importance and scale, built within a modest budget, and crafted with the local community and its natural surroundings in mind,” added RIBA President Simon Allford.

“Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA has created innovative, clear, refined, economical and delightful architecture with social impact – providing essential healthcare services in the rural area and addressing the increasing effects of the climate emergency. I am delighted that it is being celebrated as the International Prize 2021 winner.”

More images and drawings