We need to take care of the city with the limited resources in our hands, and develop homegrown solutions and technologies rather than importing readymade ones
Md Didarul Islam Bhuiyan (Dipu) is a promising architect and the principal architect of FORM.3 architects, a well-known and reputed architecture firm in Bangladesh. From the very beginning of his architectural journey, he possessed a vision that would create responsible architecture and designs based on the traditions and sociocultural context of Bangladesh. Under his guidance, FORM.3 architects has won several architectural design competitions organized by the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) and other organizations.
In an exclusive interview with The Business Standard, Bhuiyan shared his views on Dhaka's architectural flaws and how the flaws can be used to transform the city into a more livable space.
"I believe that the architecture of every region should be responsive towards the uniqueness of its geographic location. While practicing in the tropical delta of Bangladesh, the search for a climatically and culturally responsive design language have been my quest. The projects look for an architectural vocabulary that speaks the language of our own context and ethnicity," said Bhuiyan.
One of the significant achievements of FORM.3 architects is the Old Dhaka Central Jail project titled 'Conservation of Old Dhaka Central Jail, History, Historical Buildings & Development of the Surrounding Area' situated at the capital's Nazimuddin Road. "This is a multidisciplinary project of architects, planners, landscape architects, conservation specialists and historians." Bhuiyan remarked.
Old Dhaka Central Jail has passed many phases as an integral part of Dhaka's history and has arrived at the verge of serving the city's present need. Transitioning from history to a vibrant future, a design idea was generated that combines the experience of both a significant past while creating a new sociocultural platform for the dense neighborhood of Old Dhaka - encompassing the vibrant and colorful activities of century old traditions. Although having its own culture and heritage, the substandard living conditions in Old Dhaka due to its congested buildings, narrow lanes overlapping with small shops and hawkers, overcrowded roads and absence of breathing spaces are not accomodation friendly for its dwellers.
The redevelopment project consists of a jail history museum, Bangabandhu history museum, national four leader museum, parks, lakes and ponds, public spaces, multipurpose complexes including exhibition and gathering spaces, swimming pool, gymnasium, traditional shopping spaces, cineplex and food courts for the neighborhood. The father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spent 3,053 days in this jail, making it an inseparable part of the journey towards an Independent Bangladesh.
This project will act to resolve the traffic problems of the surrounding areas by providing a new thoroughfare road, widening the existing roads and footpaths, introducing bicycle tracks, and treating the important traffic nodes. Approximately 600 car parking spaces are in the compound, built to resolve the prior issue of inadequate car parking spaces in the complex and neighborhood.
How can we make this city livable?
Dhaka is a metropolitan city of almost 21 million people with an average 47,400 people per square kilometer. It is the most densely populated city in the world with inadequately developed hard and soft infrastructures. A livable city should have at least 25 percent green space while Dhaka hardly has 5 percent. We need to take care of the city with the limited resources in our hands, and develop homegrown solutions and technologies rather than importing readymade ones which mostly are not fit to solve our problems. Also, a city can become healthy only when it's citizens work and care for it.
Open spaces are the lifeline of a city's infrastructure while the residents are the soul. The public spaces and parks are more than mere open spaces. They are essential for society in terms of livelihood and social interaction. Every society should have its own public space regardless of its economical stature.
What inspires you the most while designing?
I always keep in mind that any building or environment designed at present will reward the communities for a long time to come. To design a sustainable building means designing a sustainable future where cost reduction and recycling materials is the most important aspect for me. My humane judgements drive me further to account for the site landscape and natural resources in order to design an environmentally friendly system. I believe it is necessary for an architect to listen sensibly and respond carefully to the project's needs and context, and propose a strategy that fits the client's necessity and budget to work towards a sustainable design.
Can the workplace environment of an architect firm have an impact on its creative ideas?
Architecture is a discipline which is at once technical, aesthetic and social.
It involves a broad range of intellectual and practical abilities for which our workspace fosters a co-working atmosphere, often noted as an architecture studio rather than a typical office. It is where collaboration, intellectual exchange and experiments of all the architects, engineers, clients and interns come together.
Here we practice and encourage an atmosphere of mutual respect and intellectual curiosity - where ideas are discussed and debated, and where contradictory viewpoints can co-exist. Indoor sports, movies, discussions, pizza days, birthdays, excursions and other recreational facilities help new ideas stem.
Bhuiyan's architectural studio - Form.3 Architects, have been engaged in creating diverse designs ranging from a small apartment to the planning of cities, from street side cafes to high-rise commercial complexes, from religious structures to social clubs, from shopping centers to heavy industrial buildings, and from pocket parks to urban scale projects.