Unpublished Research Report on ‘Urban life and use of Public Space: Study of responsive public open spaces for supporting urban life in Dhaka City’ by Dr. Farida Nilufar Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, BUET [email protected] com Research Funded by: Jahanara Majid and Mahbub Alam Research Grant of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh Title of research ‘For Urban Life, specially Dhaka City: Its Past, Present, and Future’, September 1999 – December 1999 (extn. July 2000) Submitted to The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 5 Nimtali, Old Secretariate Road, Dhaka. Submitted on July 2000. Abstract
The urban population of Dhaka suffers from lack of proper urban facilities. The ‘Public open spaces’ are needed for different functional and leisure activities of the urban dwellers. In spite of growing densification, a number of open spaces are scattered in the city. Such areas often found to be misused by anti-social occurrences, thereby resulting into dehumanized areas. Moreover, the existing open spaces are frequently threatened by encroachment. The role of public open spaces, both at community and city level, is important to improve the social ties and social control for future generations.
Therefore, it seems that the open spaces need to be more effective for public interaction. Now it is imperative to know what type of spaces still exist and also to study the nature and quality of use of public open spaces by the urbanity at present in order to retain and to generate responsive spaces as needed by the future generation of the urban population of Dhaka. The present investigation has found that the existing stock of open space in not enough to sustain the need of urbanity in Dhaka. The open spaces mostly exist in the form of ‘Urban Parks’, ‘Urban Recreational Areas’ and ‘Urban Development Open Spaces’.
The utilization of the existing large open spaces, i. e. the urban parks, is overwhelming; and their impact on urban life appears to be enormous. These urban parks serve as recreational ground for the middle-income urbanity. The upper income people use those areas for their personal care; and the poor comes to earn by serving others. Besides, the ‘Urban Recreational Areas’, like small and medium sized parks and playgrounds, are frequently used by the local children and youth. The ‘Urban Development Open Spaces’ also generate many activities; thereby they are helping to enhance a better urban living condition.
It has been recommended that government and local authorities should urgently recognize the value of these resources. The existing open spaces must be protected by the enforcement of Environmental Laws. In order to make the open spaces responsive to the urban need, such spaces need to be well equipped. Besides, regular maintenance and control of these areas is essential to cease the anti-social occurrences and put them in successful use. 1. Introduction – Public Open Space and Urban life One of the major component of urban environment is its open spaces.
These open spaces may be either public or private property. Indeed the stock of urban open spaces are conserved and maintained by the government in order to serve the public need. A huge stock of open spaces is needed for urban services or utilities [e. g. water reservoirs, graveyards, garbage disposal grounds etc. ]. In addition, open spaces are also essential for the purpose of different public functions and recreational or leisure activities of the urban dwellers. Besides, for circulation purpose linear open spaces are formed as streets and roads.
These three categories of open spaces in urban areas are generally designated accordingly as ‘Utility Open Spaces’, ‘Green Open Spaces’ and ‘Corridor Open Spaces’. Among these, the utility open spaces are used by the urban population in a passive way. Whereas only the green open spaces and the corridors are actively used by the public. For that, these two types of open spaces are accessible to general public, thereby, termed as the ‘Public Open Spaces’ in urban areas. A public open space in a city, in difference to a private space, is a place of mutual involvement beyond the immediate family circle.
The scale and type of public open spaces is guided by the socio-cultural and climatic conditions of the city concerned. In Dhaka City, the urban dwellers popularly use both the streets and open spaces for different activities. Thus the linear open space of streets, other than their main objective of circulation, also serve many urban activities in our cultures. On the other hand, open spaces are mainly for the purpose of public assembly, like open market, park, plaza, play field, fair ground etc. However, this present research only focuses on the open spaces of Dhaka City, other than it’s streets and roads.
Such open spaces appear to be either at community level for local people or at the metropolitan level for the total urban population of the city itself. In addition to the intended formal and informal public function, public open spaces have great impact on human interaction and social control by citizens’ sensory involvement and their participation. 1. 1. Need of Public Open Space for the Urbanity in Dhaka Cities, like Dhaka, in the developing countries are mostly built-up areas due to the pressure of rapid urbanization. Here the roads are crowded with vehicles and air is laden with lead, smoke etc.
Within the junk of concrete and polluted environment the green open areas are very essential inside the city for its environmental and ecological balance. Other than this passive need, one of the primary need of open spaces in urban life is for recreational purposes during the leisure time. The importance of recreation in people’s physical, intellectual and emotional development is now undisputed. It has been reported repeatedly that one of the major reason for crime in Dhaka city is the lack of proper and adequate recreational facilities [Siddique, 1991: 315].
Indeed, recreational facilities and open spaces, which are accessible to the general public, provide an integral and necessary part of urban living, particularly in areas of high density. In our cultural and climatic context, we have the tradition to perform many leisure activities in out door spaces in urban life. Such leisure activities are Travel like walking or wandering; Personal Care and Exercise like sports, active play; Sleeping for relaxation; Eating during picnic or dining out; Social and Institutional Activities like meeting, talking, parties etc. ; and Cultural and Communication Activities like hobbies, passive play etc.
For passive recreation open spaces like parks and gardens and for active recreation play fields/grounds, stadiums, open-air theater etc. are essential within a city boundary. Moreover, some functional uses like Chawk or open market, congregational fields orEidgah, political meeting places etc. have been traditionally occupying the urban open spaces in our context. In the historical city of Dhaka, commonly called Old Dhaka, large scale public gathering space was limited to a number of chawks, rather the whole city had small scale and intimate public open spaces in the mahallas.
Traditionally such informal public open spaces, like street corners, court yards etc. , helped to generate local social activities and ensured social control. Similar informal and intimate open spaces are rare in new Dhaka in spite of its organic morphological character and spontaneous development. Only a few spaces are kept open in planned residential areas which are also being swallowed day by day. The scarcity of required open spaces, both in public and private realm, has restricted and changed our lifestyles to a great extent. The urbanity in Dhaka rarely gets the scope to use the urban open spaces for their recreational need.
People at present are more home bound, thereby, has changed into a more individuated, self-centered, and mechanical society in turn [Nilufar, 1997]. However, in spite of growing densification of built-up areas in newer parts of Dhaka, a number of medium and large scale open spaces are scattered in the city. Such areas often found to be misused by anti-social occurrences, thereby resulting into dehumanized areas. It is believed that role of urban public spaces, both at community and metropolitan level, is important to improve the social ties and social control for future generations.
The present survey reveals that the precious open spaces of Dhaka are highly used and there also remains a great demand of more open spaces in our urban life. Therefore, it seems that in a dense city like Dhaka the existing open spaces need to be more effective for public interaction; besides, more open spaces need to be created according to public need. Therefore, now it is imperative to know what type of spaces still exist and also to study the nature and quality of use of public open spaces by the urbanity at present in order to retain and/or to generate responsive spaces as needed by the future generation of the urban population of Dhaka. . 2. Objective of the Research This research mainly focuses on two integrated issues – Urban life and use of public open space. The main purpose is therefore, to study of the existing open spaces and their use, in order to assess the use of public open spaces by the urbanity in Dhaka. From the present investigation, this report aims to set criterion for the responsive public open spaces for supporting urban life in Dhaka city. The objectives of the research are, therefore, as follow, i.
To locate and identify the pubic open spaces existing in Dhaka city, mostly those are under the government agencies; ii. Study the use of public open spaces at present in order to determine the impact of those spaces on the urban life in Dhaka; iii. To identify the potential pubic open spaces in the city to generate urban activities; and also to formulate some suggestions in order to retain and/or to generate responsive spaces as needed by the future generation of the urban population of Dhaka. 1. 3. Scope of the Research
This present issue of ‘Urban life and use of public open space in Dhaka city’ essentially incorporates different disciplinary actions like that of urban designers’, planners’, architects’, landscape architects’, sociologists’, anthropologists’ etc. However, this report mainly confines the research inquiry within the limit of physical investigation of public open spaces and their social use. Considering the resource constrains, this present work mainly focuses on the intermediate and large scale urban spaces in the city context.
In doing so, a sample of five open spaces have been selected to investigate their use by the urban dwellers. From the findings of the inquiry, it mainly attempts to outline the present situation of the public open spaces in Dhaka. It also tries to identify potential spaces to be retained and/or generated within Dhaka city which would be responsive to the future need of the urban population. Some suggestions are also incorporated at the end to improve the quality and quantity of open spaces considering the need of urban life.
Further research might lead from this primary investigation in order to suggest the criterion to improve the quality of public open spaces to make them responsive and sustainable for the future urban life. 1. 3. Research Methodology In order to attain the mentioned objectives, the research has undertaken a reconnaissance survey; a number of observations; interviews with the concern authorities; and a questionnaire survey on the users. The reconnaissance survey was undertaken in Dhaka city by field visits, and data was collected from concerned authorities for identification of the existing open spaces in public use.
The data has been plotted on the GIS records. A number of observations have been undertaken to characterize the existing public open spaces in terms of nature of space use. It tries to identify the factors of the open spaces itself which influences the use, such as attractiveness, size, location, access, facilities, and management of the area; surrounding land use; and climatic condition etc. In each sample area five independent observations have been undertaken, each of which was for ten minutes covering all the whole area during the peak hours of use.
During the observations, the number of the static and moving people has been counted. Besides, the nature of activities, the list of supporting services/facilities, their locations and service pattern has been determined. A questionnaire survey has been undertaken to understand who use the spaces, why and how people use them. [see Appendix A] It also tries to assess the efficiency and nature of social use of the urban public places and determines the future projections. The interviews had been taken on spot; and approximately 2%- 5% of population was covered in large areas and 10% in intermediate areas .
It has peaked the respondents by random sampling method. It has been identified the factors influencing the use of the public open spaces: socio-economic [demographic] character of the users, their geographic distribution and the density of surrounding tributary areas. The questionnaire mainly focuses on the followings; -purpose of the users to use/pass the spaces; – extent/duration and time of use; – social class and type of users; – users’ preferences among different options; – rate and extent of social crime in public open spaces; – need of supporting services/facilities to generate activity.
The results of the survey are presented here through simple descriptive analysis and statements are made of broad conclusions. 2. Dhaka City and its Public Open Spaces The British author James Taylor has stated in his ‘Topography of Dacca’, after his visit of 1824, that Dhaka looks like the Venice of the orient. The large open spaces with the lushness of nature surrounding the habitation; the water of the Dulai Khal flowing across the town, and the water boundary by the Shitalakhya and the Buriganga – all these natural features made the city beautiful.
In spite of that the town itself was congested even then with a few green open spaces inside. During the British period, Dhaka experienced a northward expansion while the peripheral green areas were incorporated within the city boundary. A green kernel was kept open at the center of the town. In doing so, in 1825, a green belt was developed by cleaning the water of Ramna Lake and by huge plantation in the surrounding areas. The Ramna Park was established in that area in 1908. A race-course was established in a vast open space near Ramna. This area was turned into the Sohrawardy Uddayan in 1972 with huge plantation.
Besides, there was a large lake, called Motijheel, towards the eastern edge of the town. The areas of the then new Dhaka like Paltan, Ramna, Shantinagar, Malibagh, Kakrile, Tejgaon had thousands of trees. Towards west, Azimpur, Fulbaria, Bakshibazar, and the Dhaka University area were also very green and open. Likewise, a number of ponds and Khals were scattered all over Dhaka. During the 70’s the greenery of historic Dhaka were mostly cut off and the water bodies were filled up. Except the Ramna Park and the Sohrawardy Uddayan there is no tress of central green refuge at present.
These two precious green areas, which are acting as the lunges of the city, are also being swallowed by different constructions and government projects. Alike other world cities, much of the existing open spaces of Dhaka city has been inherited from a by-gone, that is the more leisured age when population pressures were modest and the land costs were a tiny fraction of what they are today. Dhaka’s central parks [i. e. Ramna Park, Shishu Park & Sohrawardy Uddayan], thus, can be compared to the Hyde Park and Regent’s Park of London, and Central Park of New York. The inter-linked central parks of Dhaka and the nearby Stadium Complex become increasingly precious legacies with each passing year. Sadly, with Dhaka’s rapidly growing population, unless they can be replicated, their value will be diminished by over-utilization and these valuable assets permanently impoverished’ [Dhaka Structure Plan, Vol. -I, 1995: 84]. During 60’s western planning standards recommend for 10. 5 acres of land per thousand of population for recreational purposes [Koppelman & Chiara, 1969: 203]. Experts suggested that an ideal city needs to keep it’s 40%- 50% of land open, or free.
In developed countries of the Western World, 70% – 80% of land remains open. In these days the standard is revised and it is suggested to keep 25% land of an ideal city as open and green. However, the picture is different in case of Dhaka. Here in old Dhaka only 5% and in new Dhaka 12% of land is green and open. [DMDP, 1995] It has been reported recently that the total amount of open space including its roads, footpaths, parks, play fields, tracts, lakes, ponds etc. in Dhaka is about 17 -18% of city area. [Daily Janakantha, March 05, 2000] At present there is a dearth of open space, particularly Parks and Playgrounds, in Dhaka city.
Whatever provisions were made in the original plans of the residential areas like Dhanmondi, Banani, Gulshan, were gradually encroached, either by authorities themselves or by owners of adjacent lands. The same has been the fate of some of the lakes and khals of Dhaka. It is well understood that a comparison with other world cities, of different culture and different climates, appears to be a useless exercise. However, at present the local planning experts recommend for at least one acre of parks and open spaces per thousand population for Bangladeshi cities [KDA Structure Plan, Working Paper No. , 1999: 8]. If such a standard is to be applicable in case Dhaka, the city needed a stock of approximately 6 sq. miles [i. e. 3900 acres which is 11% of land area within it’s total 54. 5 sq. miles area] of area only for recreational purposes. However, Dhaka Structure Plan urges to have 20% of open spaces in Dhaka for it’s future generation [DMDP, 1995]. The population is increasing everyday, therefore, the need is also escalating. At present it is imperative to identify the requirement and the potential open spaces for the future generation. 2. 1.
Potential Open Spaces in Dhaka City The stock of open spaces in a city is important for the present and future of its urban life. To have a right picture of the present use and also to prepare future proposals it seems essential to have the facts and figures regarding the existing stock of open spaces. However, with multiplicity of controlling agencies, such figures are not readily available for Dhaka. Traditionally, the maintenance and control of open spaces of Dhaka have been shared by the authority of Public Works Department and RAJUK [previous DIT].
Being influenced by a political decision, at present, most of the open spaces and parks in local areas are handed over to the Dhaka City Corporation [DCC] authority as they collect tax from the citizens. The Arbory Culture Department of PWD only takes care of the large green areas of Dhaka. Beside these, other governmental agencies are responsible for their respective open areas like Zoo, Stadiums, Botanical Gardens etc. ; and several open spaces are under the authority of different institutions. As a result, in absence of any central control or legal binding such figures rarely determined and reported for Dhaka City.
Although PWD has a list of their open spaces; it has been found that Dhaka City Corporation [DCC] has no complete list of the open spaces under their authority. Besides, the stock of open spaces under other agencies and different institutions still remains uncovered. DMDP Structure Plan claims that at the city or metropolitan scale, Dhaka has a fair representation of recreational open spaces, both for active and passive recreation, though arguably not enough. [Dhaka Structure Plan, Vol. -I, 84: 1995] At present it seems imperative to identify and quantify the available stock of open spaces in Dhaka city.
However, such an endeavor needs immense resources. Within the given limitation, this present research tries to identify the potential open under different government agencies like DCC, PWD etc. within the city boundary. Data has been collected from the Zonal offices of DCC . In this way a list of open spaces has been prepared and the areas have been identified in Dhaka city map. [see attached Map] However, the attached list does not include the right-of-way, landing space, road-side island, median, round-about etc. The stock of public open spaces under DCC control is approximately 190 acres and under PWD is 302 acres.
This two authority cover 0. 768 sq. miles of area, which is only 1. 4% of Dhaka’s land. However, many other authorities have vast areas, which also contribute to public use. The following list delineates the information collected as part of this investigation. List of Parks and Open Spaces Under Dhaka City Corporation [DCC] Zone -01 Area 1. Dhupkhola Field 9. 18 acres [includes Children’s Park, Field for East-End Club and Jagannath College] 2. Sharafatganj Park [in Community Center] 0. 46 acres 3.
Jatrabari Crossing Park 1. 33 acres [Partly Swallowed for Market construction] 4. Sayedabad Park 0. 7 acres 5. Shwamibagh Park 0. 7 acres 6. Narindah Park 0. 08 acres 7. Play ground near Jurain Graveyard 2. 2 acres 8. Golapbagh Park and Playground 1. 57 acres – Tikatuli Park [Fully swallowed by DCC for Community Center] Other Service Lands [DCC] Matuail Garbage Disposal Area 46 acres – Crematorium [Burning Place] 1. 65 acres Zone -02 Area 9. Nabajug Sharircharcha Park 0. 06 acres 10. Bahadurshah Park 1. 98 acres 11. English Road Park 0. 33 acres 12. Sirajoddoula Park [near Nawab Yousuf Market] 0. 5 acres [DCC has planned to build Library, Gymnasium, Health Center] 13. Sikkatuli Children’s Park [Nazira Bazar Park] 0. acres 14. Bangladesh Math [Aga Sadek Road] 2. 64 acres – Bangshal Crossing Park and Park towards south of Ananda Bazar [This two park could not be recognized by Zonal Office, although exist in an old list of Urban Planning Unit of DCC] Zone -03 Area 15. Gajamahal Children’s Park 0. 86 acres [Near Kasaikhana, Hazaribagh Tannery Area] 16. Hazaribagh Park [Kala Sharder’s Park] 3. 7 acres 17. Nawabganj Park 2 acres [DCC has built here Library ; Gymnasium ] 18.
Rasulbagh Children’s Park 2. 5 acres 19. Bakshi Bazar Children’s Park 0. 43 acres 20. Bashiruddin Park 0. 11 acres 21. Hazi Amil Eidgah Math 3. 67 acres [Azad Office Field-opposite Dhakeshawari Temple] 22. Amligola Bali Math 0. 28 acres 23. Hazi Delwar Hossain Play Field 4. 6 acres 24. Quazi Reazuddin Road Play Field 0. 75 acres 25. Shawshan Ghat Math 0. 1 acres – Azimpur Park [swallowed by Wasa Pump Station ; Library cum Gymnasium] Other Service Lands: [DCC] – Azimpur Old Graveyard 45 acres – Azimpur New Graveyard 3. 7 acres Zone -04 Area 26. Gulistan Park 10 acres 27. Bangabhaban Triangular Park 0. 18 acres 28. Muktangan Park 0. 51 acres 29. Motijheel Park [near BRTC bldg. , DIT Ave] 0. 38 acres 30.
Bashabo Play Field 2. 29 acres 31. Mothertek Play Field 1. 88 acres 32. Play Field near Brother’s Union Club 0. 09 acres 33. Play Field of Khilgaon Rehabilitation Zone B 0. 2 acres 34. Park to the East the Biman Office- 35. Motijheel Car Park [Near Uttara Bank Bhaban] – Zone -05 Area 36. Shahbagh Children’s Park – 37. Osmani Uddayan 10 acres 38. Dhanmondi Road no. 4 Park 0. 8 acres 39. Kalabagan Children’s’ Park & Nursery 4. 2 acres 40. Nayatola Children’s Park/ Moghbazar Park 0. 46 acres [Major area has been swallowed by the construction of Commissioner’s Office] 41 Dhanmondi Road No 8 Field 4. 3 acres 42. Dhanmondi Lake Side Open Area 15 acres – Nimtali Park [Small road side island with play equipment, not shown in Map] – Park in front of Veterinary Hospital [Small road side island, not shown in Map] – Rayer Bazar Park [This park could not be recognized by Zonal Office, although exist in an old list of Urban Planning Unit of DCC] Zone -06 Area 3. Tajmahal Road Children’s Park [C Block] 0. 46 acres 44. Tajmahal Road Park [Eidgah, Play field, Park]1. 6 acres 45. Chaderhat Play Field, Johuri Mohalla, Mohammadpur 0. 86 acres 46. Bijli Mohalla Jannatbag Park 0. 31 acres 47. Khilji Road Children’s Park [PC Culture, Shamoli] 2. 86 acres 48. Iqbal Road Park 1. 43 acres 49. Kawran Bazar Children’s Park 0. 8 acres 50. Iqbal Road Field[Lalmatia New Colony Children’s Park] 1 acre [Partly swallowed for construction] 51. 9. Panth Kunja Park 0. 6 acres 52. 10. Play Field of PC Culture, Shamoli 2. 1 acres 53. 11. Humayun Road Play Filed 1. 52 acres 54. 12. Lalmatia D Block Play Field 1 acre – Shahid Park [Park close to Mohammadpur Community Center, Now completely swallowed for Market construction] – Shershah Shuri Lane Park & Babar Road Park [This two parks could not be recognized by Zonal Office, although exist in an old list of Urban Planning Unit of DCC] Zone -07 Area 55. Mirpur Intellectual’s Memorial with Park 11. 6 acres 56. Jahurabad Field , Bisil Mouza [west to the Memorial] 1. 9 acres 57. Shishu Mela – Other Service Lands: [DCC] – Mirpur Graveyard – Kazipara Graveyard Zone -08 Area -All the open spaces are under Housing and Settlement Directorate. List is attached at later in this report. Other Service Lands: [DCC] – Graveyard in Section 13 and 11. Zone -09 Area 58. Gulshan Taltala Park 4. 2 acres 59. Gulshan Park at Road no. 90 7. 3 acres [Includes Wonderland Park, Bonkids Nursery and Play Field] 60. Gulshan Ladies Park5. 7 acres 61. Gulshan Tank Park7. 5 acres 62. Park near Banani Road no. 7 0. 75 acres 63. Park near Banani Road no. 18 0. 6 acres 64.
Play ground near Banani Road no. 011. 5 acres 65. Play ground near Banani Road no. 271. 3 acres 66. Park near Banani Road no. 13 0. 67 acres 67. Baridhara Park 2. 14 acres – Play Ground in Gulshan Road no. 23 [1 acre, has been sold out to private ownership] – Three Parks located in the Map on Gulshan lake side [0. 33 acres, 0. 19 acres, 0. 28 acres of land has been swallowed by private plot owners]; and – Park near the Bridge, located in the Map on Banani lake side [Low land never developed] Other Service Lands – Banani Graveyard Zone -10Area 68. Uttara Sector 3 Park3. 28 acres 69. Uttara Sector 4 Park3. acres 70. Uttara Sector 6 Park [Triangular]3. 9 acres 71. Uttara Sector 6 Park [Sqaurish]5. 75 acres 72. Uttara Sector 07 Park11. 44 acres 73. Uttara Sector 13 Park6. 16 acres – Previous Park of Uttara Sector 01 [Swallowed by DCC for Private Plots] and the Park at Uttara Sector 12 [2. 64 acres] as shown in map is not developed. List of Parks and Open Spaces under the Arbory Culture Dept. of Public Works Department [PWD] PWD Area 1. Sohrawardi Uddayan55 acres 2. Ramna Park [including Nursery]58 acres 3. Majar of Three Leaders [beside Sohrawardi Uddayan]3 acres 4. Central Shahid Minar 3. 5 acres 5.
North and South Plaza of National Assembly Building 95 acres [including National Graveyard, Officers housing & Lake] 6. Chandrima Uddayan 77 acres 7. Anowara Uddayan 8 acres 8. National Eidgah Field 3 acres [Besides, all the State Guest Houses, the Bangabhaban, the Ganobhaban, The Secretariat complex, International Conference Center, and other public building like Osmani Memorial Hall, National Museum etc. have gardens and open spaces in and around their boundary. These areas are not all the time accessible to public. However, beyond the city limit National Memorial Monument of 108 acres in Savar is also maintained by PWD. Public Open Spaces under the different agencies and institutions: These open spaces are accessible to public. Here the Zones of DCC are referred for convenience, although DCC has no control on the areas. Zone -01 – Park near China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge, R &H Department – Baldha Garden, Old Dhaka [Ministry of Environment and Forest] Zone -02 – Armanitola Play Field [Owner: Salimullah Medical College] – Fore Court of Ahsan Manjil Zone -03 – Rahmatganj Play Field – Azimpur Colony Play Field – College of Leather Technology Play Field – Islambagh Eidgah Math – Three Star Co-operative Society Field [Amligola] Quazi Reazuddin Road Local Play Field – Field adjacent to Iraqi Graveyard – Lalbagh Fort Zone -04 – South Goran Field near Sultan Bhuayan Jami Mosque [PWD, 1. 31 acres] – Bangabandhu Stadium, Gulistan [Ministry of Youth and Sports] Zone -05 – Abahani Play Field, Dhanmondi [9. 4 acres] – Women’s Sports Complex Field [5. 2 acres] – Dhanmondi Road No. 6 [old] Eidgah Zone -07 – National Parade Square, 120 acres [Air Force and Civil Aviation Department] Zone -08 Housing and Settlement Directorate: [Total Area: 5. 71 acres] – Parks in Section 13 Block B [i. 0. 675 acres, ii 0. 225 acres, iii. 0. 195 acres] – Park in Section 2 Block H [0. 26 acres] – Park in Section 12 Block C, between Lane 9 ; Lane 17 [0. 55 acres] – Park in Section 12 Block D, between Lane 12 ; 33 [1. 12 acres] – Park in Section 12 Block C, between Lane 5 ; 6 [0. 34 acres] – Park in Section 1 Block F Road 1 [0. 48 acres] – Park in Section 1 Block A Road 9 [0. 23 acres] – Park in Section 10 Block C Lane 11 [0. 28 acres] – Park in Section 10 Block C Lane 4 [0. 15 acres] – Park in Section 10 Block B Lane 17 [0. 15 acres] – Park in Section 10 Block B Lane 8 [0. 15 acres] – Park in Section 10 Block A Lane 5 [0. 12 acres] – Park in Section 10 Block A Lane 10 [0. 16 acres] – Park in Section 10 Block A Lane 7 [0. 6 acres] And others are – Mirpur Zoo [Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock] – National Stadium, Mirpur [Ministry of Youth and Sports] – Botanical Garden, Mirpur [Ministry of Environment and Forest] Zone -09 – Play Field of Tejgaon Poly-technique Inst. – Monumia Play field near BG Press, Tejgaon – Banani Amtoli Park in Mohakhali Area – Green Areas of R ; H Department along Airport Road – Golf Club, Kurmitola [Ministry of Defense] – Army Stadium, Kurmitola [Ministry of Defense] Besides, a number of Open Spaces are maintained under different institutions and authorities in Dhaka where use is reserved. Such areas are as follows, BDR Play area and Open space – Central Jail [Open space and Parade Ground] – Field of Rajarbagh Police Line [State Ministry] – Gulshan Shooting Range – The Cantonment Board maintains a number of open spaces inside their area. There exist large play grounds with different Schools, Colleges and Universities, such as Fields of different Government Schools like, Azimpur School, Govt. Laboratory School, Dhanmondi Govt. Schools, Banani Biddaya Niketan, Khilgaon Girl’s High School, Ideal School & College, Fakirapul TNT School, and Fields of different colleges like Eden College, Dhaka College, Titumir College, Notredame College etc.
Play Fields of Dhaka University [Two nos. ], BUET Play Field. There are also many fields inside different Government Quarters like: Baily Road Colony, Azimpur Colony, Sukrabad Colony etc. 2. 2. Typology of Public Open Spaces in Dhaka City All open spaces are classified for planning purposes according to the nature of the land and the type of open space use. According to western standards, all the open spaces in urban areas falls under four types : i. Utility Open Spaces, ii. Green Open Spaces; iii. Corridor Open Spaces and iv. Multi-use Classification etc.
Each of these major types has a number of categories according to functional land use. [Koppelman & Chiara, 1975: 42] Among these, the type of Public Open Spaces, which are the concern of this present research, fall under the category of Green Open Spaces. This category of green open spaces is based on open spaces where the natural site or condition lends itself most advantageously to use for recreation, parks, building sites, non-extractive uses, and to shape urban development. The use may be limited or intensive, active or passive, large or small.
According to Koppelman & Chiara , this type comprises of the following categories of open spaces. However, first two categories of green open spaces can not be located inside cities because they need large scale spaces. Last four categories are essentially located within the cities. Another open space hierarchy was suggested by Greater London Council, GLC [Roberts, 1974: 340]. All the four types of GLC standards fall under the category of Urban Recreational Areas of the former group. The GLC standards are as follows; Urban Recreational Open Spaces
None of the western standards are comparable to the case of Dhaka. However, considering the nature of the land and the type of open space use, all the public open spaces within Dhaka City can be ordered under the following four categories. Urban Parks: These are large open spaces in metropolitan scale, basically maintained by PWD. Like Ramna Park, Chndrima Uddayan, Osmani Uddayan, Sohrawardy Uddayan etc. [occupying from 50- 80 acres of land] Urban Recreational Areas: Open spaces developed and assigned for more or less organized out-door recreational facilities.
These are either large areas like Stadiums and Tennis Complex at metropolitan scale of Dhaka, or intermediate areas like Armanitola Play Field at local scale in residential areas [usually 2-9 acres]. Besides, relatively small size open spaces are used at local level as Children’s Park with play equipment [usually less than an acre]. Urban Development Open Spaces: Open spaces which shape, control and site urban development. These include urban plazas/parks of various size in commercial and institutional areas of Dhaka. They are mainly intermediate size green areas with pavements; like Pantha Kunja, Anowara Uddayan, Gulistan Park etc. usually 2- 8 acres]. Some of these areas have historic, cultural or political importance like Bahadurshah Park, Central Shahid Minar, Muktangan Park etc. Functional Open Spaces: Some open spaces are very much functional in nature, like Eidgah, Nursery, Car Parks. However, the trend of open markets, like Chawks of Old Dhaka are not in use. Even so, many road side areas act as open markets in Dhaka. Moreover, some of the open spaces have multi-use like local Children’s Park cum Road-side green buffers; e. g. Pantha Kunja; or like Urban Plaza cum Historic Monument e. g.
Central Shahid Minar. 2. 3. Open Space Policy for Dhaka City Every city must have a policy outline for the control, preservation, reservation and use of it’s public open spaces. Over and above the planning principles, such policy matters need to be formulated in response to general public demand and the particular geographical and spatial situation of the city itself. In the long run, the effectiveness of public open space is related to how well such spaces are integrated into the overall design of the city. Sometimes, from city design perspective, it is claimed that the ublic and private open spaces also need to integrated for better efficiency of open spaces system. [Barnett, 1982: 185] However, the institutional control is mostly limited to the available land which are under the state control. These are basically the metropolitan scale open areas in the cities. The planning decisions may also guide to generate open spaces in local level for the community itself. Dhaka City Structure Plan [1995-2015] has clear vision regarding city’s open spaces; and has formulated a number of policies. [Dhaka Structure Plan, Vol-I, 1995: 84-86]. The proposed policies are, in brief, as follows: POLICY SE/10- AUGMENTING CITY OPEN SPACE The Municipal Planning Authority [MPA] will seek to augment the City’s existing stock of major recreational facilities by means of exploiting the resource of vacant and/or under-utilized Government land within the established urban areas. In order to implement the POLICY SE/10, DMDP has proposed to convert the under-utilized old Airport site to Dhaka’s Central Park of the twenty-first century. The central position of this area in relation to the present and future pattern of urbanization, coupled with its high accessibility, make it the ideal site for a new National Sporting Complex.
Moreover, DMDP has also proposed to secure access for the public to some of the City’s vastly under-utilized Government and institutional land holdings for passive recreational use [like parks and gardens] on the successful model of Zia Gardens. •POLICY SE/11- SECURING FUTURE OPEN SPACE It is the MPA’s intention to identify and secure sites for major recreational use in the DMDP Structure Plan’s all the priority new development areas, but especially the DND Triangle and Harirampur [north of Mirpur]. It has been suggested that a long term planning is needed to secure necessary arge sites before urbanization and land prices escalate. It is also recommended that necessary land for flood retention ponds may be assessed to combine them with the recreational open spaces in DND Triangle and Harirampur area. It has been also suggested that the MPA needs to encourage picnic areas at accessible rural locations beyond the urban areas proposed in the DMDP Structure Plan. Moreover, the MPA will also support the Forestry Department in the establishment of proposed Bhawal National Park [north to Gazipur] for the people of Dhaka City. 3. Case Studies -Large and Intermediate Scale Public Open Spaces
As part of the present research five existing open spaces in Dhaka have been investigated. Two of them are large and the other three are intermediate in physical size. These are; Large Open Space:1. Ramna Park in central Dhaka; 2. South Plaza of National Assembly Building Complex; Intermediate Open Space: 3. Anowara Uddayan, near Farmgate crossing; 4. Central Shahid Minar, in Dhaka University area; 5. Armanitola Field, in Old Dhaka. Before the questionnaire survey and observations were undertaken in the month of June, 2000 which in Bengali Calendar was Joishta- Ahsar.
The weather condition of Dhaka in this pre-monsoon phase is in general hot-wet. According to Met-office, the Mean Max. Temp. of Dhaka is 32 deg. C and Mean Min is 24 deg. C; Precipitin of June is 400 mm & RH is 85%. [Ahmed, 1995: 18-24] This time in Dhaka, the Max. Temp. was 32. 5 deg. C and Min was 25. 6 deg. C; RH was 80. 4% [Morning], 75. 7% [Evening] in average. [Source: Daily Prothom Alo] Thus, the weather report and subjective judgment show that June’ 2000 was in general more hot, less humid and less rainy in Dhaka. This weather data must have impact on the behavior pattern of the residents which is revealed in the survey report.
In these long summer days, the sunlight was present from 5:15 am to till 6:45 pm. Therefore, time of use was categorized as Early-morning [5-8 am], Morning [8 am-12 pm], Noon [12-3 pm], Late-noon [3-5 pm], Afternoon [5-7 pm], Evening [7-8. 30 pm], Night [after 8. 30 pm]. In addition, an International Cricket Tournament took over played during the first week of June in Dhaka Stadium which must have impact of the recreational behavior of the citizens. Besides, the law and order condition is claimed to be deteriorating day by day, therefore out-door recreation seems affected to some extent.
All these climatic, social and cultural condition of the survey phase must get value in considering the accumulated data and its analysis. 3. 1. Ramna Park Ramna Park is a huge open space located at the center of Dhaka city. In 1908, this area was developed as a park with 68. 5 acres of land around the Ramna lake. However, the park has been swallowed partly by different buildings along its periphery. At present the open green area of 58 acres, including the lake and the nursery, is maintained by the Arbory Culture Department of PWD.
The huge park is organic in it’s shape taking the from of a lung of a human body. Except the west side, it is surrounded by vehicular roads. [see attached location Map] The entry is controlled by seven defined gates from the surrounding roads. Inside, the park is criss-crossed by pedestrian walkways. The lake in its natural shape covers almost one fourth of the area. This vast green area with the water body works as the lungs of the city for its environmental and ecological balance. The land uses of the surrounding areas are residential and institutional in use and are in general low-density built-up areas.
The survey findings show that two main leisure activities are taking place in Ramna Park area; those are Recreation and Physical Exercise. Among the survey population, 58% people use this park for their recreation and other 35% for physical exercise. The rest of the users [7%] come to earn by serving others; they are mainly the hawkers. Besides, a few floating people also beg and stay here. In addition to these regular activities, occasional festivals like the traditional Bangla New Year program of Pahela Baishak at Ashathmul [previously known as Batamul]; and various cultural and commercial fairs take place in Ramna Park.
During these seasonal and occasional programs thousands of people from all cross-section of the life participate. For recreational purpose people pass time by wandering around the greenery, relaxing by sitting alone, by talking with others, by sleeping, by eating, and by boating inside the park. Among them, 66% come occasionally, 22% come weekly and only 12% come daily. The daily users of this type mainly come in early morning and reach here on foot from within 1/2 a mile radius. However, majority come occasionally in the afternoon and in morning hours from a radius of two miles or more by spending money to travel here.
Their main purpose is to relax in these hot summer days. These people mostly come in small groups of 2- 4 persons, who are mainly friends or family members. [see picture] A large section is couples of male and female. Such events of recreation are very popular in the weekends. They are mostly middle-income people [45% among the total users, & 62% of the users of middle income strata]. A few poor people are also found to pass long hours by taking rest in this free open space round the week. However, a minor fraction of the rich people comes for recreational purpose in the Ramna Park area.
On the other hand, people are found engaged in exercise, jogging, walking, active playing for personal care and exercise. They mainly come regularly from a distance of 1/4 to 1/2 mile and mostly belong to upper-middle income [38% of users from this income group] and upper income [66% of users from this income group] group. People come as individuals regularly for morning walks, physical exercise and occasionally for afternoon or evening walks. Among them 85% are male and 15% are female adults. By regular interaction they become known to each other.
At present, people, those who come regularly, have been organized an association to ensure their security and other facilities like exercise grounds, toilets etc. Thus, the function of individuals turned into a group occurrence and the total event has become very much enjoyable and inspiring in Ramna Park. It seems that such a unique outcome has mainly resulted because of their homogeneity in income, geographical proximity of their homes and mainly for their similar mind. Other than walking and exercise, only a few teenagers of lower income group are found to come occasionally as groups to play in the green areas of Ramna Park.
As part of the survey, five independent observations were undertaken, each of which was for ten minutes covering all the areas of the park during the peak hours of use, i. e. in the afternoon. From an average, it is evident that Ramna Park is being used approximately by 1600 persons per minute during the peak active hours. Among them 1000 people were engaged in chatting, 250 in wandering, and 350 in walking or exercising. Which indicates that during the afternoon, majority [78%] come for recreation. On the other hand, questionnaire survey indicates that most of the people are coming for physical exercise in the early morning.
The observation shows that most of the moving people [40%] uses the peripheral route covering the maximum length of area. Two other routes, which are very localized and cover a portion of the park only, are also very popular. Besides, a few platform for physical exercise are also developed by the association. On the other hand, the static people are found scattered all over the park; also gathered close to the eating corners. The pedestrians mainly enter from the west entry [Astachal], whereas the people coming by cars uses mainly north [Aruonodoy] and east [Shantishaya] entry.
Some with rickshaws come from south-eastern entry. The park has defined car parking areas for around 40 cars. The parking lots are mostly occupied by the hawkers. There are almost 300 benches for 600 – 900 people to sit scattered along the walkways and also in clusters, Mahila Angan and Kichukhan. [see picture] There are about 35 play equipment [swing, slide, seesaw] in the ‘Shishu Pranter’, one platform for exercise, a stage for cultural programs at Ashathmul, a number of built-up umbrella type park shades, one restaurant for 200 persons, two toilets etc.
In addition, there is a lake which is poorly maintained and ill-equipped with boating facilities. In general, the users stay here for one to one and half hours for any of the leisure activities. Only a few people occasionally spend more than two hours in the park. However, those, who come to earn, stay day long for their livelihood. Majority of the users [66% of all users] are attracted to the Ramna Park for it’s vast green natural environment. Rest of the users prefer this park for it’s walkways, physical proximity to residential areas, low noise and pollution levels etc.
Such a precious land at the center of unplanned and densely built-up city of Dhaka seems to have great appeal to its users. Although government spends lot of money for its maintenance and vegetation, one third of the users identify poor maintenance of the open area and different facilities including that of the lake as the major problem of the park. Only 17% people had mentioned lack of security as a problem who were disturbed by un-authorized people involved in anti-social events, like prostitutes, beggars, and drug-addicted persons etc. 3. 2. South Plaza and Garden of National Assembly Building Complex
The National Assembly Building Complex is located in Sher-E-Bangla Nagar toward north of Dhaka City. In 1982, about 640 acres of land was allocated for gardens and plazas in the National Assembly Building Complex between Manikmia Avenue and Crescent Lake Road. [Alam, 1999: 98] At present the South Plaza and it’s adjacent gardens occupy 62 acres of land [Source: Map of PWD] which is maintained by PWD. The land use of the Assembly Building Complex is in general institutional i. e. governmental buildings by nature. However, residential areas, like Mohammadpur, Lalmatia, Indira Road, are located very close to the Plaza. see location Map] The South Plaza is flanked by two vast open gardens, which are enclosed by vehicular roads on all sides. However, two formal entries from Manikmia Avenue lead to the area from the center. The South Plaza leads to the main Assembly Building at first floor level. In addition, the tunnel road under the plaza leads to the main building. Except the ceremonial occasions, the plaza access remains closed, and the tunnel road acts as the main entry to the Assembly building. Therefore, for security reasons public access is not allowed in the plaza and the gardens during the Sessions. This present urvey was undertaken during the Budget Session of June 2000. Therefore, public gather was found only in the early morning, afternoon, evening hours in weekdays and all day in the weekends. The survey findings show that, like Ramna Park, two main leisure activities are taking place: Recreation [58% of users] and Physical Exercise [34% of users] in the South Plaza and Gardens. Other 8% come to earn by serving the visitors. This plaza is rarely used for national functions. Rather the North Plaza is popular for national ceremonies for it’s northern location considering the climatic and privacy factors.
One of the main attraction of the South Plaza is its magnificent steps which provide elevated plane to enjoy the place and sitting as well. Many others were found wandering on the footpath, on internal roads and in the gardens. The main attraction of this area is the quality of open space with the magnificent building in front. People come occasionally from different parts of Dhaka, even from other districts and countries, to see the renowned building this setting. About 10% of people come from outside Dhaka, 34% come from more than two mile radius, 12% from within two miles and the rest come from nearby areas for recreational purpose only.
They come in groups of 3-8 persons, who are either friends or family members. A significant number of visitors come in couples of male and female. Sometimes individuals also come to enjoy the place. Among these type of users/visitors, about 88% are of middle income strata. Thus, the survey shows that the South Plaza can be marked as a popular recreational ground for the middle income people of Dhaka City. It has been observed that around 5000 people at a time gather here during the peak hours of afternoon in the weekends. Among them almost 3500 are counted sitting and standing on the plaza. see picture] Indeed, such a big gathering turns into a crowd when compared to the Ramna Park situation . In the weekdays, the crowd is almost half of those in the weekends. Such a crowd is rarely seen in the context of Dhaka other than political meetings and games/concerts in the stadiums. Other than recreation, a significant number [34%] of people come for physical exercise. 50% of those come in the early morning for a walk or jogging on daily basis. Among the rest 50%, majority comes in the early morning to practice karate and skating. This adult males practices specialized games in the pursuit to take physical care.
Sometimes, young girls are also found to skate around. These participants are of upper-middle and upper income group. Some children of middle income families play cricket in the morning and afternoon. All of these players and athletes like this area for it’s vast openness and good pavements. [see picture] Nevertheless, the general visitors coming for recreation get disturbed by the games. The South Plaza has gardens with plantation in a very formal arrangement. So far, the green areas have no walkways, benches, play equipment. As a result, the gardens are less used in comparison to the plaza and footpath.
There is no provision for car parking, so road side parking is common. There is no food corner, but a number of mobile restaurants serve here. The area lacks public toilets, drinking water fountains. However, it is well lit at night, well maintained and secured because of its location in the Assembly Complex. Anti-social activities are also rear because of routine policing. In users response the area seems to have no deficit. Only a few complains are reported for necessary services to cater such a big gathering in this area. 3. 3. Anowara Uddayan Anowara Uddayan is an intermediate size planned green belt/wedge in the dense city center.
This open space is located adjacent to the Farmgate Crossing, which is one of the highest traffic zones of Dhaka. This strip of 8 acres land is elongated between Indira Road and Khamarbari Road. The open area is surrounded by vehicular roads on three sides except the west. The land use of the surrounding areas is diversified. The Islami Eye Hospital is towards the west; the BARC Complex is beside the south road. There is a bus and a tempo stand, a daily bazar of perishable items on the other side of Indira Road. The Tejgaon College, some Commercial buildings, Coaching Centers, etc. nd residential areas are adjacent to the south. [see location Map] This open space is maintained by PWD. In fact the open space is positioned like a huge island within the sea of paved areas of busy vehicular road. To take advantage of this position, this area is used as a crossing zone by pedestrian traffic. There are six entries on the north and the south, and the area has low height railing all around. It has been observed that 80% of the users are mainly passes-by who enter through one entry and cross the area to reach the other side. [see picture] There is a number of walkways criss-crossed the area in geometric patterns.
However, observations show that a few direct routes are mainly used by the passers-by. This heavy pedestrian traffic flow in peak active hours, and the surrounding vehicular traffic make the area noisy and dusty. Besides number of floating people, almost 5% of the total users, who are jobless or beggar, are found wandering here and there. Some of them sleep here and also stay at night. [see picture] They use open spaces as kitchens, baths and toilets. The area remains very dirty in some parts. In addition, many anti-social activities, like mugging, prostitution, drag-selling etc. , have been reported here.
Thus a pressure of in-migration by low income people is evident in this area. Due to all the problems, people rarely come here for recreational purpose. Only 15% of users come to pass time from adjacent educational institutions or those who are waiting for buses. However, they stay for very short time, like 10 to 15 minutes. The area is in general used by lower middle and low income groups. However, a few middle income children come from nearby residential areas to play in the western part of the uddayan which is relatively quite and clear. One of the reasons for its bareness seems to be its proximity to South Plaza.
Although there are number of huge trees along the edges and some small plants inside the areas; the green cover is cleared off due to heavy use and lack of maintenance. The infrastructure is also poorly maintained. There are about 40 benches and 12 umbrella type park shades, which are all the time occupied by homeless people. There is no regular policing. Therefore, the environment is not so pleasant to spend leisure time. Nevertheless, in this densely built-up city this piece of open land is precious. Therefore such a green space is badly needed as refreshment zone in this heavily crowded and severely polluted urban context. . 4. Central Shahid Minar The Central Shahid Minar of Dhaka University area is historically famous for the Language Movement of 21 February of 1952. It has national importance, and the principal ceremony of 21 February take place here every year. The famous monument of Shahid Minar was originally conceived and made by artist Hamidur Rahman. Later on, since 1972, PWD had developed the area. At present the PWD has responsibility of maintenance, and the Dhaka University is honored with the responsibility to arrange the Shahid Day programs. The land occupied by the monument and its platform is 3. 5 acres.
The platform is approached from north, north-east and north-west corner from a vehicular road. Dhaka Medical College is located at the back, towards the south. [see attached Map] The area is bein shaded by huge full-grown trees. The most honorable and magnificent use of this area is the Shahid Day program starting from 20 February night for next seven days. A great congregation of citizens, from all sectors of life, tak, place during this time, specially in the first hours of Shahid Day. The huge crowd spreads on the surrounding areas and it becomes approximately forty thousand of male and female at 12:01 am of 21 February.
For regular use this area is open to public. A number of social, political and cultural programs take place round the year. The average capacity of the platform for such mass gathering is around 1000- 1200 people. There is permanent arrangement for day-night programs and the surrounding with very much institutional character encourages people to hold medium sized public gathering in the Shahid Minar Chattar. In case of regular use this area acts as an urban plaza. Observations show that about 250 persons use the area at a time in peak hours, i. e. afternoons.
For normal days the area is occupied by the awaiting patients and visitors of Dhaka Medical [22%]; the students of DU, BUET, Medical and near by educational institutions [50%] and general people [16%] for the recreational purpose; a number of visitors from home and abroad come to see the historical place [7%]. Some hawkers are also found to earn by selling food items [5%]. The place is actually significant for historic reasons. Even so, it’s physical location, open environment, grand steps, shading trees all add to its attraction. Many people from lower class are found to sleep here for it’s calmness.
It also acts as the foreground of the Outdoor Department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, so many personal meeting relating hospital activities also take place. [see pictures] The area of Shahid Minar is disreputed for many anti-social activities, such as, illegal business like drug selling, prostitution, mugging etc. Sometime, it is referred as a home of the reputed criminals of Dhaka. However, the afternoon is the best-preferred time by the commoners. After dark, the character of space use turns down. In spite of all these occurrences the area remains active by general users till 9:00 pm in summer nights.
For the sanctity of the place, most of the users want more security control by regular policing, particularly after dark till the morning. 3. 5. Armanitola Field Armanitola Play field is located in the heart of Old Dhaka. It is one of the most precious open spaces of the highly built-up old city. It’s reference as an historical open space is from 18th century. Although this field is very much associated with the community living in Armanitola, the authority of Sir Salimullah Medical College owns the land. It is surrounded by vehicular roads: Armenian Street towards west and south, Nawab Yousuf Road towards east and P.
K. Ghosh Street towards north. The field is 2 acres of land bounded by high walls. The entry is from the west. [see attached location Map] The Armanitola area is very congested and busy. The key land use of the surrounding area includes wholesale markets and bazars. Even so, the surrounding locality can be typed as a mixeduse area with residential, commercial and cultural activities. The vehicular roads bear heavy traffic load round the clock to serve the wholesale markets and the river ghats. This open space plays a significant role in this over crowded and congested locality of old Dhaka.
The field is physically detached from the establishments of the Salimullah Medical College, and at present mainly used by the community itself. The field serves as the playground for the children and teenagers who are 90% of the users of the field. They play cricket and football mostly from the morning to evening. Besides, a few young boys [7%] come for physical exercise in early morning, and some people [3%] come to pass time in open air. There are around 300 children found to play during afternoon hours, i. e. the occupancy rate is almost 150 per acre.
The users are mostly lower -muddle to middle-middle income group who live around. [see pictures] Occasionally this field is used for seasonal tournaments, annual milad mahfil of the locality, annual sports of the schools and the Eid congregations. In such occasions 1000- 1500 persons can accommodate in the field. The area is almost barren and poorly lit. In fact, the infrastructure is very poor with low maintenance. Sometimes the field is illegally occupied by the trading goods and construction materials. However, with only one entry, which is again controlled by security guards, the area is at present free of anti-social activities. . General Discussion – Urban Life and Public Open Spaces in Dhaka This report in general describes the social life of the urban dwellers centering the public open spaces in Dhaka. In this regard it also tries to depict a present situation of open spaces and their particular problems. It also proposes the necessary steps to improve the stock and quality of available open spaces for the future generation. 4. 1 Use Pattern The use of open spaces by the urban society of Dhaka is significant and diversified. Most of the large scale festivals of Dhaka take place in open spaces.
The culturally rich spots of Dhaka are mostly its open spaces, such as Bangla Academy, Ramna Botomul, the T. S. E street-island in DU, the Baily Road etc. Similarly, political focal points were the Sohrawardy Uddayan [the then Race Course], and still now is the famous Paltan Maidan. The historic landmarks like Shahid Minar, Intellectuals’ Memorial at Mirpur, Jatiya Sriti Saudhya at Savar etc. hold Dhaka’s national-political events. The Dhaka stadium of Gulistan has been a successful center of sports, games since its beginning; and recently also serves for the cultural events like live-concerts.
Various commercial events like International Trade Fair, Textile Fair etc. are also seasonally taking place in the open grounds of Agargaon area. These significant occurrences in citizen’s life are all contained in various open spaces of the city. Other than these seasonal and occasional events, the existing public open spaces of Dhaka appear to be an integral part of many urban dwellers for day to day recreational purposes. The large scale public open spaces essentially attract people for their openness, fresh air, natural beauty, i. e. he noise and pollution free natural environment. To get relief of their exhausted life and congested living environments, the urban dwellers come to enjoy the open spaces from every part of the city. Besides, the intermediate-size open spaces at the metropolitan as well as local level are also preferred for active recreation like sports and games. There is a number of small scale recreational parks in different neighborhoods where the local children come to play. The large scale open spaces are used for leisure activities – mainly for passive recreation and physical exercise.
Among these, physical exercise for personal care is a daily activity, on the other hand visits for leisure purpose are occasional and seasonal. From the data analysis, it has been revealed that the regular users, coming for physical care, are the higher income people who are health conscious and who live in proximity. They do not use public open spaces for active recreation, as they can afford to enjoy in other places or at home. As well, they seem to keep a distance from the commoners, therefore they come in exclusive hours like early morning. Although the rich group is a significant proportion of the total users; the ajority are mainly the middle income group who comes for recreation. It has been found that this middle income people come from a distance bearing the communication cost only to get relief from the exhaustion of busy urban life. They sometimes want more elements of active recreation like exhibition, cultural programs, amusement facilities etc. in these open spaces. The middle income group wishes to use the public open spaces for their total pleasure at a minimal cost. On the other hand, a few low income people come to this public open spaces to earn their living or to take shelter.
Hawkers serve the other users, and the vagrant come to beg. Some homeless, jobless in-migrants are found to live in the open spaces. The following diagram shows the basic nature of use of the large open spaces in Dhaka. The above diagram reveals that the three income groups use the same spaces for different purposes. Although they coexist in this spaces, it has been found that these three groups of people have different views to these spaces. The upper and middle income group frequently get disturbed by the presence of the low income people.
On the other hand, low income group targets the others for their need to earn. This situation is unavoidable and the reality of our social system. However, many people of the society take this situation of co-existence as a cause of anti-social occurrences. It has been popularly reported in the media that open spaces are places of anti-social activities. This idea is rooted in the mind of the people who do not visit these open areas frequently. This present investigation observes that the regular users rarely feel the lack of security as a problem; and events of anti-social activities are reported in limited number.
However, a few people reported being disturbed by un-authorized people involved in anti-social events, like prostitution, begging, and drug-addiction etc. and they ask for further security control. Therefore, it can be argued here that the existence of the poor has no relation to the anti-social events; rather this situation is related to the system of maintenance and control. Due to lack of control, many of such open areas for recreation has turned into places of anti-social events or illegal occupations. The Kawran Bazar Children’s Park is being occupied by illegal temporary shops and squatters.
It has been reported that drug-selling, anarchy, mugging are taking place in a few parks like Panth Kunja, Golapbag Park, and Tajmahal Park. 4. 2 Physical quality and stock of open spaces The increasing population of Dhaka has boosted its status to that of a megacity. The existing stock of open spaces is not enough to serve the growing population of the megacity. The physical condition of the available spaces is also very poor. One of the major problems, as identified by JICA in 1991, of Dhaka is the failure to provide appropriate lands for parks and open spaces. Islam, 1996: 194] It has been observed during this research investigation that almost all the people, who use the existing open spaces, expressed an essential need of more open spaces in Dhaka both for active and passive recreation at localized as well as metropolitan levels. The DMDP Structure Plan claims that Dhaka has a fair representation of recreational open spaces, although not enough [Dhaka Structure Plan, Vol-I, 84: 1995]. This present investigation discovers that at present approximately 500 acres [0. 768 sq. miles] of land is maintained by DCC and PWD. This stock is only a meager portion [1. %] of the total land of Dhaka City Corporation area, and in population ratio it is only 0. 12 acres per thousand of population. However, while the open areas under different authorities and agencies are considered this figure will increase slightly. According to an uncertified data Dhaka City has 0. 16 acres of open space per thousand population [as reported in KDA Structure Plan, Working Paper No. 1, 1999: 8] All these figures prove a great deficiency of open spaces in Dhaka city for its population. In Dhaka, the primary problem of public open spaces is the pressure for encroachment by public and private bodies.
Hundreds of such incidence has been reported. The government itself has swallowed a number of parks and open spaces in Dhaka. This research investigation found that Tikatuli Park, Park of Uttara Sector One, and Shahid Park of Mohammadpur, Azimpur Park have been completely gulped by the government authorities. On the other hand, many parks and open spaces have been partly occupied by the community centers, commission’s office of Dhaka City Corporation [DCC], for example the Nawabganj Park, Jatrabari Crossing Park, Nayatola Children’s Park, Lalmatia New Colony Park in Iqbal Road.
It is unfortunate that the controlling authority itself is not aware of the value of these precious open spaces in Dhaka. DCC has more plans to construct new community buildings in such parks and open spaces. In this way, the small and intermediate sized open spaces/parks are in danger of encroachment. In planned residential areas, like Mirpur, Gulshan, Banani, and Uttara, open spaces were designed according to the planning standards. However, many of those are developed as plots and finally being sold out to private owners.
Such occurrences have been traced in Uttara Sector 1, Mirpur Sector 2 and 6 and also in Gulshan Circle 2 [the play-ground in Gulshan Road no. 23]. Even, the large scale parks or open spaces are also being threatened with encroachment. In Dhaka, four large parks are being shrunk. The International Conference Center was being planned to occupy the Osmani Uddayan. Although this decision has not been implemented for public pressure; the uddayan has been partly swallowed by police box, electrical sub-station etc.
The Sohrawardy Uddayan has been taken for the Bangabandhu Memorial and the under-ground museum for which earth had been removed upto 30 feet depth. The open area towards the north of Chandrima Uddayan is taken for International Conference Center for NAM Summit. The Tennis Complex has taken part of the Ramna Park. Thus the large scale public projects are being placed in the available precious open spaces in Dhaka. Side by side, private owners are also taking the adjacent open spaces illegally. Such cases are found near Dhanmondi Lake, and Gulshan Lake.
A recent attempt to lease the areas surrounding Gulshan and Banani lakes to a private developer has been thwarted as a result of the concerned actions of civic pressure groups, professional bodies and legal action by environment lawyers. Some of the areas designated as retention ponds and drainage channels in the flood protection schemes are also being filled up by real-estate developers. The recent directive by the government not to allow any construction by filling up water bodies is a welcome step. However, this needs to be strictly enforced. Among the others, a common problem of the open spaces is the lack of maintenance and control.
Many parks and open spaces appear to be un-utilized or under-utilized for this reason. It has been found that a number of parks are stripped of green cover, and are full of dirt and dust. In most of them the planned vegetation and play equipment are not properly maintained by the authority [DCC]. These open spaces have become useless and vacant lands. Sometimes they appear as dumping ground for garbage. The children are being deprived of civic facilities. Such a condition prevails in Shawamibag Park, Sayedabad Park, Banani Amtoli Park, Dhupkhola play ground, Hazaribag Park, Bakshi Bazar Children’s Park and Gajamahal Park.
The greenery of large parks like Ramna Park, Chandrima Uddayan are full-grown and well maintained. The Arbory Culture Department of PWD takes care of this areas. However, natural disaster like Kalboishakhi has destroyed lot of mature trees of Dhaka in this year. In rest of the open spaces, particularly under DCC, the plantation is not organized and are less maintained. Over and above, the infrastructure facilities of the parks and open spaces are poor in general. In most of the cases, they lack proper arrangement of public toilets, drinking water, lights, benches, walkways etc.
Facilities like food stalls, car park, rickshaw dropping, sigh-seeing areas are rarely designed in these areas. 4. 3. Proposals to serve the future urbanity From city planning point of view, the open spaces in a city need to be considered as a part of a system of open spaces which is created by fitting together of open spaces in a continuous connected series of open space element. The characteristic of a system is that each element has a positive relation to the others, and the whole has a form in which each element has a meaningful and functional place.
For economic pressure and land scarcity, such a system may be a multi-use system within the city areas; however, large open areas with single -use system may be located outside the city. It is well understood from this research findings that different types of public open spaces are necessary for urban dwellers within Dhaka city boundary, these are i. Urban Parks – large scale open spaces for the metropolis, purely for the recreational purpose and to have ecological balance. ii. Urban Recreational Areas – organized out-door recreational facilities both at metropolitan and the community level.
This includes the stadiums, swimming pools etc. at city level, and the community based intermediate ; small scale open spaces as play field, playgrounds, parks etc. iii. Urban Development Open Spaces – intermediate to small scale open spaces in the city to control and guide the urban development. These are not purely recreational areas by nature but they help to enhance a better urban living condition. Besides, fairly big open areas as picnic spots or naturally pleasant sites in the form of Natural Park, like Ashulia, need to be developed for recreational purpose at the out-skirts of the city.
Such areas may be maintained in a natural state with proper infrastructure facilities for the public to enjoy. Site for such areas may be taken from sub-urban areas in the periphery of the city. It has been identified that only 36% of the city area was under urban use, and the rest 61% was non-urban or semi-rural, agriculture use [Islam, 1996: 192]. This figure represent that rigorous urban planning is needed for Dhaka. In addition, as the city is continuously expanding, a long term planning is necessary for surrounding territory.
The metropolitan planning authorities need to be more conscious regarding the acquisition of open spaces in the non-urban areas of the city for the future generation of urban dwellers. In order to develop urban parks, the site for old airport, BRD head quarter etc. may be taken. It has been reported that government is making plans to develop the Sohrawardi Uddayan into a cultural and recreational center with open air theater and landscape gardening [Islam, 1996: 47] Such attempts need to be appreciated if the precious open spaces can be saved and the traditional culture of open space activities can be revived in Dhaka.
A number of similar parks may also be developed at the fringe areas which are mostly developing in an unplanned way. In this regard the policies undertaken by Dhaka City Structure Plan must be endorsed and implemented. DMDP has many proposals to preserve and protect existing open spaces of the city. This report particularly restates the urgency to execute the following proposals of DMDP in order to increase the current stock of open spaces in Dhaka City [Dhaka Structure Plan, Vol-I, 84-86 Vol-II, 1995: 46, 49, 50, 53, 55, ] : Re-planning of big chunks of urban land under BDR, Cantonment for a variety of more intense and productive urban uses; and allocation of recreational areas. – Like Dhanmondi Lake, the Begunbari Canal and it’s surrounding open spaces should be developed to prevent encroachment and increase the limited open space and recreational areas in the city. – To develop the under-utilized old Airport site to Dhaka’s Central Park of the twenty-first century. – To relocate the Central Jail of Old Dhaka for much needed open space in that area with other public service. To stop the filling of Gulshan Lake, and to develop it as a recreational center with water based facilities. – To secure necessary large sites before urbanization and land prices escalate around the fringe areas of Dhaka. – To combine the land for flood retention ponds with the recreational open spaces in DND Triangle and Harirampur area. – To implement the Buckland embankment development project as a recreational center. – Proposal to study in order to develop the retention pond areas in Mirpur with the Zoo and Botanical Garden into a metropolitan scale recreational area.
In order to have intermediate scale open spaces for residential communities, the planned areas must retain their open spaces according to the original plans. For the unplanned and spontaneously growing areas government may acquire land in potential locations in the periphery of the city, like in Madertek, Goran, Rampura, Kuril, Mugdapara, Rayerbazar, Hazaribagh, Shamoli, Adabor, Kamragirchar etc. In the densely built up areas of the city center and in old Dhaka various open areas, particularly fields with different institutions like schools, colleges, mosques, government quarters and government organizations like police, BDR, army etc. eed to be accessible to the public. These open areas should be particularly accessible to the children and youth of the community at least for particular time of the day and weekends on a basis of time sharing. In the residential or mixed use areas the small scale open spaces like the corner of an internal road, foreground of community centers, mosques, government or institutional buildings etc. , both in the private and public ownership, need to be treated with play equipment for the children of the community. The developers of housing societies should provide mandatory open specs for children.
For such arrangements planning regulations need to be formulated, and the existing policies should be reformed. Major problem of Old Dhaka is it’s serious shortage of open space combined with it’s high plot coverage, which allow little space for recreation. It’s precious open spaces, like Baldah Garden, Bahadurshah Park, Lalbagh Fort, should be preserved. In addition forecourts of different historical and large building complexes, like Ahsan Manjil, Lalkuthi, Hossaini Dalan, Bara Katra, Choto Karta, Tara Masjid, Armenain Church, Dhakeswari Mandir etc. nd the Buckland embankment should be developed as recreational areas for the urban population. Over and above the augmentation of new open spaces, the existing ones under government control need to be kept unoccupied and well maintained. The encroachment by government bodies and private owners in different parks and open spaces should be strictly stopped. To improve the social control and law and order situation, the recreational open spaces should be adequate and well equipped, particularly for the youth and the children. As lack of facilities retards the successful mental growth of the youth, which in turn increases the crime rate.
Therefore, maintenance of existing facilities is essential to put them in use. One of the major cause of defamation of the existing open spaces is the rumor of anti-social occurances in this areas. This present research has a little record of such occarences, particularly in active hours. It is suggested that security control by guards and routine policing may stop such incidences at all. Moreover, these areas should be easily accessible and clearly visible from surrounding areas to ensure maximum utilization. Some focal points and activity centers are needed to generate activity inside the open areas.
Indeed an active, controlled, and well-maintained area can reduce crime rate both inside and outside. Besides, the provision of food kiosks, telephone booths, toilets, drinking water, sitting arrangements, walkways etc. are essential to put them in regular use. Extensive plantation is also necessary for shade and pollution control. Moreover, such open-green environments attract human mind. To serve the recreational need of the middle income group well equipped large open spaces are needed in the city or at the periphery. Amusement Parks in commercial basis seem to be an answer to fulfill their need.
Besides, the intermediate size open spaces within the city, if well maintained with enough amusements, may attract the middle income group to meet their recreational needs. From this study, it can be inferred that properly maintained large open spaces in proximity to residences is a requirement of the high class urbanity of Dhaka for their physical care. However, in every case large open spaces are expensive. So that the required facilities can be provided in localized open spaces. In commercial areas available pockets should be developed as urban plazas.
They may act as oasis in the jungle of buildings. For ecological reasons greenery and water is essential. They may develop as small waiting places for the busy urban dwellers. Mobile restaurants or food kiosks, public toilets etc. may humanize these areas. Nevertheless, the open areas also need to be more profitable. The informal sector business, like those of the hawkers, is the only economic outcome of the public open spaces. These open spaces, as the collection points of many visitors, may generate many more informal or formal sector business. For example, rental car parking may generate income. . Conclusion The findings of the research restate that there remains a tremendous need of open spaces for the urban dwellers of Dhaka City. The impact of the open spaces on urban life can not be disregarded. In poor economic condition the open spaces of the city can only improve the physical, mental and social state of the urbanity almost at free of charge. These are the main recreational areas for the middle income people. The upper income group also depends on the areas for their physical care. However, the poor have least access to the areas.
It is the time to ensure required open spaces for our future generation, particularly the children and youth, and to secure provisions for the poor. The present investigation has attempted to identify the potential open spaces, which may be developed for public use. Dhaka is a densely developed city leaving little scope to have more open spaces inside. Being a poor country, we may not provide another Ramna Park in the city center, but we should retain and up-keep its position for our citizen’s life. The need of such open spaces in urban life is revealing.
Therefore, long term planning policies need to focus the augmentation of more open spaces for public use. The Environmental Laws must be approved and implemented urgently to preserve and protect the natural environmental features like open spaces, retention ponds. Authority needs to be aware of the value of the open spaces for city life, and they should be accountable to the public for the protection, maintenance and control of these areas. Bibliography Ahmed, Khandaker Shabbir;  ‘Approaches to Bioclimatic Urban Design for the Tropics with special reference to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation of Architecture Association School of Architecture, UK. Alam, Sarker Mahbub Ul  ” Dhaka Mohanagarir biponnaya prakitic paribesh o ter uttaran” [The distressed natural environment of Dhaka Metropolis and its development], Paper Published in the Proceeding for the Seminar “Cities for All’ on the ‘World Habitat Day’ organised by RAJUK and the Housing and Building Research Institute, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Barnett, Jonathan , An Introduction to Urban Design, Harper and Row Publishers, New York. Islam, M. Nazrul (1996), Dhaka from City to Megacity.