|Studio Master:||Nurur Rahman Khan, Khondokar Tariqul Islam, Aneeka Habib. Advisor: Minhal Ahmed Likhon|
In recent years, we have been observing a growing environmental, ecological and landscape awareness among the architect community of Bangladesh especially relating to our urban living conditions. This project can be an appropriate example of such a landscape systems-informed architectural endeavour. The major aim of the project, as evident from the phase of analysis to the details of design depiction, is to design a public realm on one of the edges of the Buriganga River where native agricultural practices and ecological landscapes are revived.
In the scope of a final year studio project, the intended design has some notable positive aspects. The design inception stems from the awareness about the fluid nature of our landscape and the dynamics of river-edge while thinking of future urbanity. The vernacular agricultural landscape of Bangladesh has been portrayed here as an integral part of urban leisure, recreation and at the same time, source of fresh flow of food. It is noteworthy how the design intervention is aware of temporality in landscape such as changing water levels with seasonal variation. The architecture that comes as a part of the landscape intervention has an artless nature being inspired from local building traditions. The open public ground floors of the humble structures remind us of the most rudimentary form of rural shelters amid vast agrarian landscapes. The design intervention also points out the vitality and applicability of ecological design initiatives in ameliorating our urban environment.
While having plenty of positive aspects, the design however has a few limitations. While there is a consideration of seasonal water levels, the project lacks a minute reflection on the existing topographical characteristics or underlying references in the landscape. The agricultural parcellation, as well as the geometry of routing lines or islands amid the wetlands, seem somewhat arbitrary and imposing. Also, the project intends to ensure better connectivity between the inner Dhaka city and riverbank on the other side as a public riverfront, but it overlooks to indicate the intricate neighbourhood connections with its immediate surrounding rural or sub-urban/future urban settlements in its master plan.
Lastly, it can be said that the project aims towards a transient landscape amid the changing courses of land and water where architecture becomes integrated into the process. Such a project is always better understood and implemented as a part of a bigger regional system rather than an individual endeavour. Nonetheless, in the scope of a studio project, the design successfully depicts the environmental and socio-cultural awareness of the designer which is a much-needed virtue for ensuring future resilience of our urban public green-blue systems. -Editor
Text from the student:
Dhaka is the gift of Buriganga. Over time, the city has turned its back towards this historic river and forgotten that the city is associated with the most dynamic water flow in the world. In the name of development, the low-lying flooded areas, canal and river encroachment had eroded the natural water ecology of the city. The river became a safe place for dumping waste, Consequently, it became polluted and narrow. The depth and breadth of the river are gradually decreasing. It has affected Buriganga, Turag, Shitalakhya, Bali and Tongi canals and 26 more such waterways. If this so-called development cannot be controlled, the other side of the river, the newly expanded city, will have to face a similar faith.
The city dwellers’ need for fresh produce is met at a high price. If agricultural products can be produced in the lands next to the city such as Keranigonj, this will benefit the local farmers living in these fringe areas. At the same time, our tendency to occupy land along the river can be eliminated. City dwellers can also enjoy fresh vegetables and agricultural products at a reasonable cost. People will find a better place for their recreation, which is very much needed for the city.
Buriganga riverfront has lost its natural habitat in the past centuries due to industrial, residential, and human occupation. Through the implementation of the hydro-ecological design, this thesis explains how urban agriculture can potentially contribute to a better environment for both people and the environment and enhance social life and green spaces along the riverfront. The project site is located at the southwest of the Dhaka City Corporation area near the Buriganga Third Bridge (Bosila Bridge) next to Washpur Jhawchar Nayachar on the Keranigonj Upazila.
If we want to save our city, we need to save its peripheral rivers. If the river survives, the city will survive, agriculture will survive, farmers will also survive. So, I have tried to explore how to save the rivers from land grabbers (through various law enforcement) and if we can cultivate the salvaged land year-round as well as engage the community, the interest in agriculture among the people will increase, farmers will benefit, recreation space will be created as well. Generations will be able to gain practical knowledge about agriculture and city dwellers will get fresh produces.
CONTEXT Contributing Editor: Alia Shahed, Lecturer, North South University