• Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
  • Last Update : 10:57 am

School-boat floats to exhibition by Gates Foundation

  • Published at 04:29 pm September 6th, 2018
Floating school
Photos: Abir Abdullah

Architect Mohammed Rezwan’s brainchild project is one of twenty-five designs and innovations to be exhibited at ‘Design with the 90%’ 


Floating school innovator Architect Mohammed Rezwan’s designs - floating school, training centre and health clinic of Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha - have once again been selected for inclusion in the forthcoming exhibition, ‘Design with the 90%’ organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The ‘Design with the 90%’ exhibition is focused on design solutions that addressed the most basic needs of the 90% of the world’s population not traditionally served by professional designers. It is the third in a series of themed exhibitions that demonstrate how design can be a dynamic force in transforming and, in many cases, saving lives. 

The exhibition will be on view from September 13, 2018 – May 19, 2019 at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Headquarters Discovery Center in Seattle, Washington, United States.  The exhibition will highlight 25 designs and innovations including affordable and sustainable shelter, food, drinking water, sanitation, education, and health solutions for the most marginalized communities around the world. The exhibition will feature Shidhulai’s school-boat along with D-Rev’s ReMotion Knee (an affordable prosthetic that helps to restore natural movement), Bernard Kiwia’s Bicycle Phone Charger (a mobile phone charger made from scrap bike and radio parts), PATH’s Freeze-Preventive Vaccine Carrier (ensure the right temperature to keep vaccines from accidentally freezing during transport to rural areas) and other innovations.

The organizers selected Rezwan’s school-boat because of its innovative approach towards making education more accessible, and because of the way it helps integrate sustainable alternative technologies with Bangladeshi vernacular tradition. Furthermore, the school-boat now defines the social design movement by improving the daily living conditions of people in flood-prone areas. “We are thrilled to bring this exhibition to the Gates Foundation to highlight the important role that design and innovative approaches can play in solving some of the world’s most critical challenges that determine the quality of life for millions of people around the world,” says Ms. Charlotte Beall, Deputy Director of the Gates Foundation Discovery Center.

Architect Mohammed Rezwan is the founding Executive Director of ‘Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’. He invented ‘floating education system’ to ensure access to year round and quality education in flood-prone regions. He developed, expanded, and sustained floating schools over 16 years period. 

The non-profit organization, 'Shidhulai Swaniravar Sangstha' has been rendering exemplary service in providing education to children in flood-prone areas, who otherwise have no access to education. Rezwan introduced floating school in 2002, and other organizations started replicating it in 2010s. Now floating schools are replicated in eight countries - transforming the lives of millions. “Architects usually design for the people who have the capacity to build buildings. 

“I always thought, ‘Why can’t an architect design wonderful things for the poor people living in rural communities?’ That’s the reason all of our projects are design solutions to solve social problems. After 16 years of designing the school-boat, our work will be showcased at the Gates Foundation again, for the second time. As an architect I am really honored, I hope we will be able to develop more life-transforming designs and impact more lives in flood-prone areas. Also I hope this recognition will encourage young designers, architects and non-designers to develop such design approaches to improve the rural communities around the world,” says Rezwan.

Also, the S AM (Swiss Architecture Museum) exhibited Rezwan’s school-boat design in the 'Bengal Stream' architectural exhibition in Basel in Switzerland during 2017-2018. This travelling exhibition is scheduled to present in Architecture Center Arc-en-reve in Bordeaux in France, German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt, and Royal Academy in London during 2018-2020.