Programme: Landscape Architecture - MPhil/PhD

Start date: September 2013

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: Designing for change: Developing design guidelines for the outdoor environment of primary schools in Bangladesh to enhance children’s learning


After completing her Bachelor of Architecture from Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Dhaka, Bangladesh Matluba joined as a lecturer at the same institute in 2009. Later on she has completed Master of Architecture and has been working as an Assistant Professor at the same department since October 2012. Matluba is interested in Built-Environment Studies particularly on children’s learning environment focusing on behavioural issues. Her research experience includes a study on the outdoor environment of children at a primary school of Bangladesh which she completed in 2012 as a part of her M.Arch thesis dissertation. She has constructed an outdoor class at a primary school funded by BUET to investigate possibilities of outdoor as learning environment for primary school children. Her paper based on that study won best paper and best student paper award in EDRA45 New Orleans. She has been awarded first along with Ms Anindita Das in Berger Travel Grant Award 2007 where a travel grant was awarded to study the vernacular settlement form and architecture of the hilly regions of Bangladesh .Her undergraduate research entitled “Rethinking Learning Spaces for Child-development: Primary Schools at Raipura Upazila, District- Narsingdi” focused on the quality of learning environment that can enhance child development. Matluba has been working as an Assistant Architect in the Bureau of Research, Testing and Consultation (BRTC) in BUET from 2007 to 2011 where she has been involved as a design team member in numerous architectural projects and researches. She was involved in National Institute of Health, USA funded international study on “IPEN Adolescent: International Study of Built Environments and Physical Activity”.  More than ten peer reviewed papers are published in national and international conference proceedings and journals. Matluba has started her PhD in Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh, UK in September 2013. Grounded on her M.Arch research She has now designed and built a whole school ground in a primary school in Bangladesh as part of her PhD with the involvement of children, teachers and community people to investigate how school ground can be designed that can enhance children’s learning.

Awards and Honours

  • David Willis Bequest award for outstanding progress in PG Research in ESALA for the academic session 2013-14
  • 1st Place at Falling Walls Lab, Edinburgh 2014 Organized by the University of Edinburgh and the Falling Walls Foundation
  • Best Student Paper and Overall Best Paper Award 45th Annual Conference of Environment Design Research Association (EDRA), 2014
  • Principal Career Development Scholarship for PhD Students, The University of Edinburgh, September 2013
  • Global Research Scholarship, The University of Edinburgh, September 2013
  • Research grant from Centre for Advanced Studies and Research (CASR), Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology for Master of Architecture thesis.
  • Shamsunnahar Khanam Memorial Gold Medal, 2006-2007 Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), February 2011 for highest CGPA in Bachelor of Architecture
  • Travel Grant Award, 2007 (1st Prize jointly with Anindita Das), Berger Award Programme for the Students of Architecture of the award cycle 2006-2007, BUET



  • Khan, M & Bell, S, Improving children’s outdoor learning by design: a case study from Bangladesh, ECLAS2015 Conference Proceedings, September 2015
  • Khan, M; Bell, S; Oliveira, and McGeown, S; Outdoor environments for primary school teaching and learning: An exploratory study, ECLAS2015 Conference Proceedings, September 2015
  • Khan, M & Bell, S; Children’s development and the role of the Outdoor Environment, ECLAS2015 Conference Proceedings, September 2014
  • Khan, M & Islam, Z. M.; Outdoor as Learning Environment for Children at a Primary School of Bangladesh, Proceedings of the 45th International Conference of Environment Design Reseacrh Association (EDRA) 2014 

  • Khan, M, Study of Open Spaces in the Context of Dhaka City for Sustainable Use: A Syntactic Approach, IACSIT International Journal of Engineering and Technology, Vol. 6, No. 3, June 2014

  • Khan, M, Design by Research: Using Lighting Simulation Software in a small study on Luminous Environment of a Primary School, Proceedings of International Seminar on Architecture: Education, Practice and Research, Dhaka, 413-422, February 2012
  • Khan, M, Learning from Vernacular Settlement Form for Sustainable Urban Development in Bangladesh, Proceedings of International Conference on Contemporary Architecture- Beyond Corbusierism, India, 195-205, October 2011
  • Khan, M; Rahman, T, Sustainable Conservation Strategies for Farash Ganj at Old Dhaka in Bangladesh, Proceedings of International conference - Conservation of Architecture, Urban Areas, Nature & Landscape: Towards a Sustainable Survival of Cultural Landscape, Jordan, 339-353, March 2011
  • Khan, M, Vertical Landscaping: The Bio-Climatic approach for Environmentally Conscious Architecture of High-rise Buildings, Proceedings of World Conference on Science, Engineering and Technology, UAE, 1348-1358, January 2011
  • An Observation on the Acoustical Environments of Auditoriums in Dhaka, Proceedings of the Conference on Engineering, Research, Innovation and Education, Sylhet, Bangladesh, 11-13 January 2011


  • Presented research paper on 'Rethinking learning environment for children's learning in Bangladesh' in Asian Conference of Inclusive Education, Dhaka, 2015
  • Presented on "Examining the links between primary school landscape and children’s motivation to learn" in the International Outdoor Learning Conference in London organized by Plymouth University in London, 2015
  • Presented (with Dr M Zakiul Islam) research paper on ‘Outdoor as Learning Environment for Children at a Primary School of’, organized by BAFED and UNESCO, Dhaka, 2012
  • Presented (with Dr Z N Ahmed) keynote paper on ‘Infrastructure for Disability and Existing Building Regulations’, organized by National Forum of Organizations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD), Dhaka, 2012
  • Presented in the research seminar on M Arch Thesis entitled ‘Outdoor as Learning Environment for Children at a Primary School of Bangladesh’ under the supervision of Dr M Zakiul Islam at Computer Lab of Department of Architecture, BUET, Dhaka-1000 on 31 July 2011
  • Presented (with S M Najmul Imam) keynote paper on Seminar ‘Accessible Infrastructure for Persons with Disabilities: Issues and Options’, BUET, Dhaka, April 2011
  • Main Speaker at Seminar on “Creating learning space for children within and around the school building” organized by Teacher Development Institute (TDI) at IER, Dhaka University, 3 July 2009


As an amateur photographer Matluba displayed a few photographs in different photographic exhibitions held in Bangladesh. She loves to capture the children in nature which is also related to her research interest. She is an organizer of the upcoming photographic exhibition ‘Colours of Bangladesh Episode I’ going to be held in Drik Gallery, Dhaka, Bangladesh on Oct 31- Nov 2.


  • Feasibility Study of Dhaka and Rangpur Zoo Modernization Project August 2010 – August 2011
  • Action Research with children for the development of playground at BUET Teachers' Quarter, 2010

Matluba is currently working as a tutor in the course Architectural design: Art and Design in the University of Edinburgh. She has been working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Dhaka. She used to teach in 5th year design studio where design tasks are chosen from specific realistic problems and emphasis is laid on design quality in terms of formal, functional and structural aspects to attain professional level of achievement, within the given socio- economic context. She also taught a theory course ‘Architectural Conservation’ to 4th year students; they are given an exposure to the history of architectural conservation, the present situation of heritage buildings in Bangladesh and the conservation technique. She tries to ignite the love for culture and history in the young minds so that they work sensuously as professionals, fight to save the history of the country. As a teacher of Arch 212- Architectural Graphics III she helped students in learning how to present their works in different medias. She also taught landscape planning and design where the young talents are given introduction to landscape planning and its scope, historical references of landscape planning and design, basic design methods and approaches.


The agenda ‘Education for All by 2015’ is a positive one; however approximately 63 million primary children are out of school across the globe, and a considerable amount who remain in schools show poor academic competence (UNESCO, 2012). The scenario is worse in developing countries particularly in Africa and South Asia as mentioned in the same report by UNESCO.  Research reveals that primary school aged children (5 to 11 years) learn effectively when their learning is incorporated with exploration of the surrounding environment and interaction with peers (Lieberman et al., 1998, Tai et al., 2006, Mygind, 2009). Research in neuro-science supports the importance of school design on the learning experience (Eberhard, 2009). Utilising the outdoor environment and developing effective design characteristics aimed at enhancing children’s learning may be a fruitful way to improve children’s academic outcomes and increase their motivation towards learning.

Research on children’s outdoor environment and its contribution to informal learning through play and physical activity has increased in recent years (Malone and Tranter, 2003a, Dyment et al., 2009, Mårtensson et al., 2014). However, there are still gaps in the evidence; research focusing on the formulation of guidelines to design optimal outdoor environments conducive to children’s learning is rare. This study will investigate the prospects of outdoor environment of primary schools as an effective learning environment and develop and evaluate design characteristics of a primary school outdoor environment. Is there any significant relationship between open space characteristics of primary schools and children’s academic achievement and motivation? What elements and conditions of the outdoor environment can contribute to children’s learning and attitude towards it?

A quasi-experimental study in a primary school in Bangladesh will be carried out, where the landscape of one primary school will be designed and altered involving the children, teachers and community people. A control school in Bangladesh (with no change to outdoor environment) will be used to compare the outcomes. In addition, pre-intervention data will be collected for attainment and attitudinal outcomes and will be compared with post-intervention data on the same assessments.   The research methods will include observation and behaviour-mapping of children in the school ground, statistical analysis of academic results, questionnaire responses and children’s attendance rates along with focus group discussions with children and in-depth interview with teachers. The data collected from these two groups of schools will be analysed to find out if there is any difference in children’s performances between the treatment and the control group, how landscape elements like outdoor classroom, shelter, sand-pit or water-body etc. contribute to children’s learning, if there is any change in the drop-out rate or absenteeism of children in schools. The study will present insights on children’s learning and play behaviour in the school ground and come out with some design guidelines for the improvement of the outdoor environment of schools.