A review of Adnan Morshed and Nefsun Nahar's DAC: Dhaka (Altrim Publishers, Barcelona, 2017)
DAC: Dhaka is a story of Dhaka told through 25 buildings—from the Lalbagh Fort of 500 years ago to buildings barely 10 years old. Put together by architects Adnan Morshed and Nesfun Nahar, this is a fascinating account of how architecture has evolved in a city often described as a concrete jungle, perhaps even as an environmental disaster in the making.
Perhaps a more apt description of this fast-growing city of 18 million is the one provided in the book's introduction—“a quintessentially 21st century urban narrative of whirlwind modernity.” As these whirlwinds often threaten to engulf us, architects strive to build an oasis, where the insatiable demands of impatient growth can be harmonised with the environment, the finer aspects of our sensibilities and our rich heritage.
As we struggle to move around Dhaka amidst the traffic and the pollution, numbed by the noise and heat, our visions blurred by graffiti, we pass by buildings whose beauty and significance we fail to appreciate. There are buildings we do not even know existed—tucked away in some corner of the city that we would hardly visit, on a lane we would hardly notice—that are symbols of the city's architectural heritage or harbingers of what lies ahead. The book reveals Dhaka in a way that is new to even those who have lived long in the city.