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Decoding Dhaka

Farooq Ameen, Principal, City Design Studio

Chair: Rahul MehrotraProfessor of Urban Planning and Design and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design

The city of Dhaka is one of the largest, most dense urban masses in the world.  Its population is projected to reach 20 million by 2015, and its land is projected to be mainly under water by 2050.  Its location on a delta with pockets of land enclosed in pockets of water has led to great urbanization challenges – Dhaka’s city planners must wrestle with where and how to build residential and industrial structures responsibly to meet the needs of this precarious urban situation.

Farooq Ameen of City Design Studio in Los Angeles shared some of the current interventions that are  underway to deal with mobility among the disjointed sectors of the city, to integrate natural elements into building projects, and finally, to protect the heritage sites of old Dhaka that are quickly being encroached upon.  He also spoke about the difficult administrative and political hurdles to initiating further urban improvements in Dhaka.

Professors and students inquired as to whether any similar interventions have been made in the areas of public health, sanitation and climate change, and whether or not wealthy inhabitants of the city felt any particular stake in these issues when it comes to helping direct resources.  Farooq remarked that some NGOs have been involved in these efforts, and that climate change is starting to enter the public discourse, but very slowly.  Sahjabin Kabir, Architect in Bangladesh and current GSD student, remarked that there is no public awareness about these issues among anyone in the city – rich or poor.  Awareness must be raised so that the government can be held accountable for the decisions it makes.

Written by Deonnie Moodie, PhD Candidate at GSAS

Video of the event: