Complaining about the city we live in is perhaps a normal phenomenon. However, as we complain about the city we live in, do we really ponder on what is wrong about our city and how to turn it into a successful urban space?
On March 30, 2017, a seminar was held in BRAC University that discussed about our urban space, namely Dhaka, and the challenges that hamper its growth. The seminar 'Urban Architecture and challenges of Dhaka' was conducted by two renowned individuals-- Dr. Md. Akter Mahmud, professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in Jahangirnagar University and architect Jalal Ahmed, general secretary of Institute of Architects Bangladesh and also the vice president of Commonwealth Association of Architects. They were invited by Dr. Rubana Ahmed, assistant professor of Department of Economics and Social Sciences at BRAC University.
The primary purpose of the seminar was to give the students of BRAC University an overview of how the urban planning works, both in terms of policies and building the infrastructure. Dr. Rubana Ahmad believes that the only way to change the condition of our urban space is when the educated youths step up and actively participate and decide in the process of making policies. The seminar was also attended by the Chairperson of the Economics and Social Sciences (ESS) Department of BRAC University Professor Abdul Bayes along with the faculty members of the department.
The seminar started off with the initial development stage of Dhaka. Architect Jalal Ahmed presented the best architectural sites within Dhaka city. He showed the audience how all the sectors of Dhaka city have well-built buildings, planned for years. During his presentation he discussed about one of the best architectural structures of Dhaka city, 'Shwadhinata Stambha' located in Suhrawardy Udyan as one of the main attractions, which was initiated in 1996 in order to commemorate the spot of liberation. He further discussed with the audience about Louis Kahn, the designer of the National Parliament Building. This building happens to be one of the most complex structures of the world as yet.
Planner Akter Mahmud also pointed out the eminent flaws that exist in the planning of our city. The audience also pointed out that Dhaka being an overcrowded state has no more room for development. After identifying the key problem, discussion moved onto the problems of transportation system, policy making procedure and infrastructure developments. A student asked about the housing system and how planners plan to deal with slum formation. Planner Akter Mahmud mentioned that the housing planning has been a major failure for this city. Majority of the people have no shelter, every year thousands of houses remain untouched, he opined.
While we are stuck in traffic, we complain and blame but think of no solution. As urban planner, Akter Mahmud mentioned that the current educated generations need to strive to reach a position of power and fix the city we live in, they have tried for ages and now it is youth's turn to fix things.