Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making an Urban Oasis The Use of Space Syntax in Assessing Dhanmondi Lake Revitalization Project in Dhaka, Bangladesh

by Nasreen Hossain, Ishtiaque Zahir, and Poddar Apurba

Within a process of rapid urbanization, Dhaka city is faced with the constant threat of encroachment of land and water bodies like lakes, canals and rivers by the public and private sectors to accommodate housing and commercial facilities to the growing population. This phenomenon is changing the residential landscape of the city into a mixed land-use pattern. Dhanmondi, a high class planned residential area lying in the heart of the city is an extreme example of such an urban sprawl. Here, the uncontrolled and unauthorized growth of different urban amenities such as retail centres, hospitals, clinics, schools and other commercial activities are rapidly diminishing the open spaces which also served as the social and cultural spaces by the lake side green plateau passing throughout the entire neighborhood.
To cope with this extreme urban situation, Dhaka City Corporation commissioned a local architectural practice, to revitalize the lake and the adjacent area to enhance the social, economic, cultural and environmental sustainability of this residential neighborhood. The idea was also to invite people from other parts of the city so that the lake can be protected from encroachment by creating a buffer zone in between the allotted residential plots and the lake. In reality, the project appears to be a successful model by restoring the lake and environment of the neighborhood. It is considered as a paradigmatic strategic urban project in a developing city like Dhaka. The scheme significantly restores and manages an urban water front development and incorporates visionary design strategies to avoid encroachment by the city.
By using ‘Space Syntax’ techniques, this research allows us to investigate the actual spatial characteristics of the lake side development project. The study will enable us to understand the accessibility and locational importance of Dhanmondi and the lake from local and global perspective of Dhaka. The research findings suggest that, an increased connectivity throughout the spaces in the lake side development scheme, has successfully integrated the segregated water body and the residential neighborhood into a continuous whole. The spatial intelligence of the design process lies, in the creation of a high level of social and spatial interface among people from different parts of the city.

more articles about Space Syntax:

Planning a Deep Island: introducing Space Syntax to an urban planning process for Phuket, Thailand

New Developments in Space Syntax Software

Modeling street connectivity, pedestrian movement and land-use according to standard GIS street network representations: A Comparative Study

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