Dhaka does not have the means to reinvent its urban space in the radical ways as Baron Haussmann did for Paris in the 19th century or Shah Abbas for Isfahan before that. But space containing walls are minimal and yet powerful surgical interventions in amorphous cityscapes because their order and strict horizon transform the all too chaotic urban forms into picturesque backdrops.
Though everyone today is aware of the need for change, the rising pile of statistics, reports, warnings and preaching does not seem to significantly shift private or public behaviour. Looking at history it seems that there are two key drivers of change: one is the intense experience of pain—which is unacceptable—and the other is the promise or experience of pleasure—a far better approach! It is the latter driver of change that we chose to instigate at a workshop held at the invitation of the Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements in Dhaka in March 2019.
The two critical questions of this particular workshop were: what kind of public space in Dhaka would be for the benefit of all? And what kind of instruments do architects need in order to create good architecture? The second is crucial too, because the architecture of good intentions is not necessarily also good architecture. Bad architecture gets demolished, and is therefore a waste of resources.