Decoding Design

Dhaka development eyes growth, climate change

Posting in Architecture

A new development on the outskirts of Bangladesh's capital city will create a "garden city" with an infrastructure focused on managing water.

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is home to 15 million people. And as its population mushrooms, so do pressures on its landscape. Sea level rise is expected to force millions of Bangladeshis living along its coast to seek drier ground, which will only make packed, polluted Dhaka more packed and polluted. But a large planned development on the outskirts of Dhaka is hoping to provide a major housing hub and new community center, without further degrading the stressed environment.

A trio of landscape, commercial and residential architecture firms from Toronto, JET Architecture, JCI Architects, and Terraplan Landscape Architects, has won the commission to build the project, called Shobuj Pata (which translates to Green Leaf) Eco Community Development.

The development is being billed as a "sustainable garden city," reports FastCo Exist, and in line with many new housing and community developments and vertical gardens around the world, vegetation assume a major role in the design, with fast-growing trees and plants being integrated from the ground level all the way to building rooftops.

The development won't be a hub for solar panels and turbines. Instead, it'll take a lower-tech but appropriate tack, with the landscape and infrastructure designed to serve as tools for dealing with the area's overabundance of water. Says Bustler:

To direct rainwater runoff away from buildings, and to prevent water overflow, bioswales are incorporated along the street edges throughout the ground plane. The bioswales also act as a rainwater filtration system retaining excess water for irrigation of the gardens and parks within the development. ... In case of excessive storm water, green roofs are designed to mitigate the runoff and assist water and air purification. ... The green wall acts as an air filtration system and creates its own microclimate which mitigates heat gain in the units as well as reducing both indoor air and outdoor radiated temperature.

The projected was approved late last year and construction is expected to commence this year, with enough dwelling units for 10,000 residents by 2015. That's a tiny portion of the capital's population, which leaves us only hoping that the concept behind Shobuj Pata might be repeated throughout the region. If so, it could actually help push Dhaka off its current trajectory and toward a more sustainable course in which it seeks to adapt to a warmer, wetter, more populated Bangladesh.

[Via: FastCo Exist and Bustler]

Image: JET Architecture

Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure