|The Sixteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2014|
Tazrin Islam - Proposal
Livability Vs Lovability
The city I am speaking of is Dhaka.This city underlying the tropic of Cancer; it is the capital city of the world’s biggest delta –Bangladesh, crisscrossed with numerous water channels carrying down the Himalayan water. In the canvas of mind, these geographical data create an image of lush green and blue water. But the statistical data record a population of 15 million making it the world’s 9th largest mega-city. The Economist ranks Dhaka as the second worst livable city just above Damascus, the war-torn Syrian capital. Today the whirlpool of concrete, dust, fume and growing number of heads turn the blue-green image into a monotonous grey.
The city suffers its own sickness. Here, seeking answer for a health regarding question is very complex. Because in this city every answer is a wrong answer, solution to every equation turns out to have an imaginary number. Therefore, the clue to the right answer is to be imaginative.
Someone imagined rightly. Someone realized that the health of the city people has to be achieved with the health of the city. And thus with the resurrection of a canal in the city’s heart, a happy healthy story began. This urban project is named ‘Hatirjheel’ meaning ‘lake of elephants’. History claims that before Dhaka was soaked dry, the elephants of the royal family had bathed here which resulted in this nomenclature. The project includes a two lane road by the lake, 2 meter wide footpath, 2.5 meter walkway, overpass, bridge and causeway lined with greenery. This initiative is part of a utopia of connecting all the dying water channels of Dhaka reviving the hydro-logical balance. In one specific picture frame at the junction of a causeway and bridge, three stray dogs are seen basking in the yellow morning sun. Joggers and a flock of school kids on cycles pass by them. At afternoon people of all class and creed fills this frame. By the evening, the water reflects the cheerful lights of the aesthetic bridges. The same cheer is exerted from the people who are seen enjoying their birth right to fresh oxygen. An enthusiastic father is seen teaching his daughter to ride on a cycle. The father hopes his daughter to be healthy, so does the architect for the citizen. Meanwhile, on the other stretch of the canal, a multistory building suddenly stands right on water utterly disregarding this healthful promise. The glass clad corporate BGMEA building obstacle the water, stands on encroached wetland symbolizing the city's errors. This architecture is inhaling mechanically conditioned air and exhaling morbidity. A satire of wealthy people for healthy environment, but not wise.
In 2013, along with the dubious honor of second worst livable city, a listicle apparently lists Dhaka in the top 10 happiest cities; leaving a question of livability Vs lovability. A healthy design invites you to walk in this city of pedestrians’ nightmare. In my proposal I will seek the positive approach that gives this healthful nod in a city of such thriving population.
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