American maestro architect Julia Morgan once said "Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves". Indeed, architecture can speak with its nonverbal eloquence to express either charm or chaos.
When you think of chaos, visualise the hastily done unplanned projects all around the port city of Chattogram. When you try to think of any architectural charm here, you will be left puzzled. Except for some historical buildings and structures, this land of saints and shrines, has very little to show.
However, there is one modern structure that provides a level of visual relief to Chittagonians. The Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View is an aesthetically pleasing structure standing proudly at the center of the city, usually a forty-minute drive from the airport.
The location, and the 22-storied prodigious body, make the landmark visible from almost all the roofs of high-rise buildings in the city.
An urban oasis
The Radisson Blu is constructed on a land of around 4.18 acres. In 2015, Bangladesh Army Hotel Developments Ltd and Carlson Rezidor group, with consultation from Vistara Architects, made the five-star hotel a reality in Chattogram.
This huge establishment is surrounded by seamlessly woven greeneries - enveloped by around 2,000 trees and plants.
Located at one of the city's busiest streets, S S Khaled Road, a first look at the grand structure can leave one breathless.
Inside the premises, the visual language of the majestic architecture becomes apparent, and the tranquil vibe crisscrosses the length of the luxurious hotel. It can indeed be considered an urban oasis.
Stepping past the front facade through a welcoming courtyard, you can distance yourself from the street noise and discover a surprisingly peaceful cascade, with a garden front.
This stony waterfall, surrounded by an open, spectacular aquarium and a garden hut, gives the vibe of a small park where you can sit and calm your mind.
Turning to your left from this relaxing area, sparkling smooth floors will lead you to the lobby.
The biggest atrium hotel in Bangladesh
Built upon the architectural ideas of renowned architect Mustapha Khalid Polash, this hotel is famous for its atrium - the highest and biggest in Bangladesh.
When you walk past the main entrance, you will feel the presence of this impressive 22-story atrium inside the lobby.
In modern architecture, atrium is a popular design feature, which allows natural space and light in the buildings.
Sitting at the reception area, you can see the atrium spanning the 22nd floor's transparent glass top. This tower ensures natural light floods all the floors and makes the atmosphere magical, all the way till the belly of the hotel.
The architect clearly believes structures can bring life and peace to so-called unlivable cities. His work appears inspired by the idea of not destroying nature and being socially responsible while designing.
Despite being a modern project, the structure pays homage to the rich heritage of Chattogram and local culture.
"Our hotel ensures a natural surrounding for the guests. Sitting here inside the building, they can experience the light coming from outside. They can also feel the natural flow of wind entering through various open sources," said Rahfat Salman, public relations in-charge at the hotel.
"By wandering through the whole property, one can discover a lot of greenery, open spaces, and glass walls. The structure removes the noise, brightens the mind, and fills the lungs. The whole concept of this building is based on tranquility with space and light, to ensure the best sleep in the city."
Focusing on the traditional arrangements, Rahfat said, "Though this structure is futuristic, it upholds the core values of the rich heritage and culture of Chattogram. Guests can see the Sampan (a traditional boat), rickshaw, or various heritage sculptures and paintings all over the property. We have a collection of almost 850 paintings inside. All our interiors respect the customary values and maintain a balance between global and local demands."
The open-air pool
When you drag yourself away from the interior of the hotel and try to experience some open-air, the infinity pool is the best option. The pool is not just another amenity here; it is one of the main attractions.
Elevated almost 70-foot above the ground through the helical parking area, the round-shaped infinity pool on the sixth floor knows how to make a first impression.
This vanishing-edge swimming pool, with an aesthetic blue texture, will offer you the best infinity view of the landscape and the sky. A ring-shaped shed around the pool gives the guest the vibe of an open water theatre where you will feel like melting with the horizon.
The landmark contains three separate blocks. The first block is a commercial area which houses the conference halls, brand shops, and banking facilities.
This part is separated by a huge welcoming courtyard, which is accessible to all. Next to this court-area is the main 22-story tower block that houses the rooms and restaurants. This block contains the atrium.
The remaining block is the backyard and is used for banquets and fairs. The entrance to this side welcomes you with a sprawling fountain where you can see the Sampan.
Bricks and colour
Exposed brick is one of the important materials for creating vintage or rustic architecture.
Featuring tan-red bricks, Radisson Blu Chattogram carries the rustic and earthy look. The bricks used here are associated with the colonial-style buildings of the port city. It clearly emphasizes a traditional aesthetic to merge the new establishment with the vibe of old heritage.
Overall, this five-star hotel features a premium colour palette with shiny and vibrant colours. Moreover, the polished and soft furnished floors, elegant tiles, and sophisticated ceilings all lead to a neutral balance of colour.
As you dig deeper into the various architectural aspects of the hotel, you realize the creators had put in a lot of effort in making this structure rise from the ground. As various incongruous structures were scattered around the land before, the architects had to use their imagination to the fullest to make the project a reality.
The writer is a journalist and researcher