|Name:||Akash Kumar Das|
|Studio Master:||Muzaffor Uddin Chowhury, Dr.Nandini Awal|
|University:||North South University|
Within the bustle of the overpopulated metropolis, Dhaka prominently lacks adequate space which generates and celebrates public activity. Uttara and adjacent Tongi areas form an important urban center of North Dhaka. The area is connected with the rest of the country by the vast and complex river system of the delta via Turag River. Ijtema maidan – a place hosting second large Islamic congregation after Hajj– is a massive area of land adjacent to the riverbank of Turag. The place remains active during this annual event which is hardly 30 days in a year. For the rest of the 335 days, the place has almost zero to negligible use. This project rethinks Ijtema maidan as a year-round multipurpose public space while fulfilling its periodic function during Ijtema time. The neighboring area lacks ample recreational space for its inhabitants, a deficit that can be fulfilled by this open large space and the river bank. It possesses the potential to be a part of the urban life where the subsidiary public programs can additionally be utilized during the period of Ijtema. These public functions can be crucial in helping the social, economic and environmental development of the area.
At present, the connection between the field and the river bank with its surroundings are essentially inadequate. This project adds values in addressing and solving this challenge. This project also holds tremendous potential in aiding the revival of the Turag River. There exists a tremendous and overwhelming traffic problem in this area that not just manifests during Ijtema time but also regular days. The project aims to formulate the framework for this 216 acres site to make it useful for the rest of the time of the year and fill up the basic need for the people during Ijtema.
The programs of the project are multiverse. There are a set of functions that aim to serve the regular people on an everyday basis and additional functions for Ijtema which are at the heart of the project. To address the needs of the surrounding communities, circulation has been carefully devised to maintain connections throughout the site with their adjacent blocks. A peripheral pedestrian walkway has been added to aid the movement of passersby.
A singular masjid in the north of the site acts as daily prayer use, while the annex acts as the segregated block for the foreign pilgrims during the Ijtema period. To the north, there are also platforms that serve as car parking. The west block of the site consists mostly of recreational activities. A grand open park with a multipurpose shaded space that can be turned into spaces for cultural activities, schools, learning and performance of the arts and crafts.
A water activity deck that offers boating is one of the many public functions designed for its’ users. No solid obstructions have been placed near the river so as to not interrupt the natural flow of the river. Strategically placed trees not only act as barriers to sound, noise and pollution. But they can also help the growth of the ecological landscape and help revive riverine ecosystems.
The main field and additional shaded fields reside next to the open amphitheater. Indoor spaces have been placed into the design as well, along with toilet washroom and locker room services for use. As a recreational function, multiple pavilions have also been articulated within the site; which on regular days shall host local markets and in the times of Ijtema, they can be used for service purposes. Encapsulating and surrounding all these is a two-layered both-way walkway acting as bridges and connections.
When addressing the needs of the Ijtema, the aim was to solve and fulfill the 5 basic functions essential to the services and carrying out of Ijtema. They are circulation, food, shelter, toilet, and emergencies. Within the 135 acres of Ijtema field where the Muslim pilgrims gather, Shupari (betel nut) trees were planted. The idea generates from the 5×7 module generally granted by the council for an individual person. The trees can be used to tie up tents or shades at different height as they grow vertically upwards. Traffic congestion and entrances to the site were the main problem points that came up during the site survey. To solve these problems, roadside drop-offs were designed, along with multiple service roads which could also be used for fire and medical emergencies. To maintain security throughout the year, five watchtowers have been placed throughout the site – an absolute means of crowd control and safety.
The project essentially arises from the needs and demands of the users, who reside adjacent to the site. The topic aims to solve these problems in a unique, interesting, playful and harmonious method, both during the times of Ijtema and throughout the rest of the year. Extreme efforts were given to use the prevailing natural elements, and use them to their full potential by channeling activities that help in their revival and maintenance; alongside them acting as the primary agents of change through their fulfillment of various functions within the site.