Sketch by Rafiq Azam
Small yet Abundant
Old Dhaka is being mercilessly transformed into an uninhabitable place as population increases. Lack of proper building construction rules and vision is leading to haphazard construction of buildings. The activity is doing nothing more than filling up all open spaces for accommodation. For the last few decades, plots of old Dhaka had been divided into ever increasing smaller because of the breaking up of large traditional cluster families into smaller one-unit families. Now, each of these families is trying to build a house using as much space as possible for their own living and income generation. Old Dhaka, the ancient part of Dhaka, once being the costliest land in the city is becoming devastated. The wonderful, historical old Dhaka is fast losing its cultural ambiance, traditional morphology and human quality. Almost all-new houses lack a sensitive plan for space for green, daylight and wind that are basic requirements for a healthy environment. In addition, due to lack of security, every house has become unfriendly towards the street, making people distrustful and disrespectful of each other.
This small apartment building is located in Noor Fatah lane, Kazedewan, in a very dense area of old Dhaka was conceived to address this major issue. The intention was to create space where desires can flourish and friendship can grow between, human, nature and community, thus proposing a new paradigm for building in an architecturally impoverished area. “It’s a typical phenomenon now that guests come and talk about the house for the first five minutes, stay longer and enjoy the spaces. If they are close relatives, they want to stay over night. It’s a sweet problem. How can I accommodate theme since it is a small house?” Happily, said Mrs. Hossain, a 4th level tenant.
Though the current trend of apartment living induces isolation, the effort here was to revive the warmth of collective living and sharing of old Dhaka. Here they share not only the good feelings and space but also the gardens and nature.
Another important aspect in this project is the translation of the traditional architectural elements of old Dhaka. “Mer” (once was a friendly threshold space between building and street) has been used in a transformed manner as transparent boundary wall with a patch of green. The traditional “courtyard” has been examined into its extreme dimension with the association of air, rain, sunlight and green. Peeping through the window particularly by the women and children has been translated into the “fuchkee khilkee” communicating the world beyond. The roof has been created to capture the ambience of traditional roof scape, a rendezvous area for the inhabitants.