SHATOTTO completes new housing block in Dhaka designed to help restore traditional values
One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Dhaka is characterised by an urban mayhem fermented by unregulated development, unreliable infrastructure and lack of green space. In addition the poor local law and order situation combined with global security problems creates an overall social ambiance of the city that is distrustful and disrespectful.
Currently, as a result, the house and street relationship is bifurcated by a high boundary wall with barbed wire on top; a 'beware of dog' sign making the society frazil and vulnerable. But even less than thirty years back the scenario of the city was otherwise. Houses, having no boundary wall but extended plinth called a 'Mer' with a sitting bench and water pitcher showing the strong bond, respect and trust amongst the people of the community.
Here in this project one of the main features is its low glass boundary wall. Semiologically this is an urge to society to revive the trust and respect. The intention is also to create the illusion of a forgotton dream and to make the dividing wall frazil and vulnerable, but not the society.
Another important space in this twenty-family apartment building is its car parking area on the ground. An open-to-sky water body at the point of entry as a memory of deltaic living, long marble benches for sitting, lounge, reception, connecting greens, defused lights, terra-cotta and granite floor in total all making the place a rendezvous.
Initially the rear, south side of the plot was connected to the lake, and the building was designed accordingly. Unfortunately though, in what the architects describe as a "typical south Asian political action", a new plot was created in between and given to a minister on the lakeside, blocking all the views of this apartment to the lake. This unique situation in addition created an acute privacy problem when the minister built a six storey house with all the servant rooms / windows facing the project. This compelled the architects to create frosted glass louver screens for privacy, whilst still allowing views of the lake from some points.
Almost all of the 8,000 sq ft flat roof area of this six-level apartment building is another space utilised as a community space with lawns, vegetation, terraces and so on. This helped reduce the heat generation and provided some green space which Dhaka is lacking. All the twenty apartments in this building have been designed very carefully, examining the cross ventilation sun movement, vegetation, water body, privacy etc.
The construction uses reinforced concrete beams, columns, and shear walls cast with exposed terracotta brick infill. Considering the sub-tropical climate of Dhaka, this approach is friendly and sustainable, whilst also conforming to the earthquake-resistant design of Dhaka's Zone 2.