Urban Morphology of Dhaka City: Spatial Dynamics of Growing City and the Urban Core Prof. Dr. Farida Nilufar Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Email: [email protected] com [Paper presented on the International Seminar on The History, Heritage and Urban Issues of Capital Dhaka, on the occasion of the Celebration of 400 years of the Capital Dhaka, Organized by the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 17-19 February 2010.
Accepted for Publication of Asiatic Society on the Celebration of 400 years of the Capital Dhaka, Organized by the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Accepted in June 2010] ABSTRACT: The fundamental morphological characteristics of Dhaka city is described here from a historical perspective. Since its establishment, Dhaka represents domination of an organic spatial character in general. Here in Dhaka, two dominant urban patterns are conspicuous within the successive stages of growth; they are the historical core or ‘old Dhaka’ and the later development towards the north, known as ‘new Dhaka’.
Besides, a few planned additions are also featured in this city. Thus, this study identifies that four major spatial patterns are co-existent in Dhaka; they are indigenous and informal developments; colonial and planned interventions. The essential morphological characteristics of these patterns, which are prevalent in Dhaka, are described here. Major discussion concentrates on the global spatial structure of the organic city and investigates the dynamics of its growth and the characteristics of morphological transformations through the ages.
It analyzes the axial maps of Dhaka and determines from ‘integration’ analysis [based on the method of Space Syntax as developed in UCL, London, 1984] that the spatial structure of the organic city has been shaping an urban core which coincides with the functional centers of the city in different historical stages. Thus the spatial dynamics of Dhaka and its core corresponds to a social history which remains as the underlying force behind the spontaneous formation of its morphological structure. . 1.
Introduction: The city of Dhaka has arisen more or less spontaneously over four hundred years. In the history, the evolution of Dhaka as a town goes back to the 16th century. With the passage of time the entire city grew in a natural way, although it has some parts which have been deliberately created in the recent past by the designers, albeit in a fragmented way. Its different phases have developed and structured at different historical stages based on the vigour of that particular period of development.
Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, has grown from a small Hindu trading centre to a metropolis. Its antiquity can be traced back to 7th century A. D. ; however, Dhaka rose to prominence only after it became the capital of Bengal during the Mughal rule under the Muslims in 1610 A. D. For a long period of its growth Dhaka was confined within the medieval Mughal core. An early impetus in the growth of a ‘new town’ outside the historic city, however, started in around 1764.
In spite of that only after 1906, on the declaration of Dhaka as the capital of the province of East Bengal and Assam, a spectacular development of the city has been manifested in the Ramna green belt outside the historic core in the newer part of Dhaka. Historian Bradely-Birt noted that “a modern city has begun to rise”. [Bradely-Birt, 1975: 261] This drift of development was impeded several times due to different political and economic reasons. However, after the independence of Bangladesh new Dhaka has experienced a phenomenal growth.
Within the successive stages of growth, two dominant urban patterns are conspicuous in Dhaka; they are the historical core or ‘old Dhaka’ and the later development towards the north, known as ‘new Dhaka’. The historic kernel of old Dhaka retains the traditional features it has inherited from the past. The natural endowment of its organic morphology is valued for its ‘indigenous’ urban pattern. The residential neighbourhoods of old Dhaka, locally known as ‘Mohallas’, which were the enclaves of caste or craft groups are considered by many to be a morphological archetype of this historic city.
Outside the historic core, the newer part is a post colonial development, thereby sometimes metaphorically understood as a function of modernization. In the newer extensions of Dhaka, similar organic morphological patterns are prevalent which have been spontaneously developed without any rigid planning proposal. In terms of established planning principles the character of these areas is seen as a confused urban sprawl.
There remains quite a lot of prejudice attached to these unplanned areas; and they are customarily described as ‘informal’ development. Nevertheless, these new generation organic areas are generally developed according to the aspiration of their inhabitants just like that of the historic city itself. The demarcation of the old and new town was geographically emphasized by the placement of the State Railway line which gave an idea about the existence of the main historic city in the quarters to the south and west of the loop formed by the Railway line. Ahmed, 1986: 99] To some people, to call the historical part ‘old’ seems to be a general misconception about it; however, there is no doubt about the extensive livability and usability of the older part even in this century, and it is well understood that being a meaningful and living form, despite the loss of official and political patronage, the old city did not fade away but was thrived and enhanced. For this reason it is sometimes claimed that old city is as contemporary as the new city. [Khan, 1982: 1. 1]
After traveling around fifty Indian cities including Dhaka in 1915-1919, Sir Patrick Geddes advocated that understanding the past is the first step in planning the present and future. [Spodek, 1993: 256] Geddes further added that “The diagnostic survey . . . seeks to unravel the old city’s labyrinth and discern how this has grown up. Though, like all organic growths, this may at first seem confused to our modern eyes, that have for so long been trained to a mechanical order, gradually a higher form of order can be discerned – the order of life in development . . In city planning then, we must constantly keep in view the whole city, old and new alike in all its aspects and at all its levels. The transition in an Indian city, from narrow lanes and earthen dwellings to small streets, great streets and buildings of high importance and architectural beauty, forms an inseparably interwoven structure. Once this is understood, the city plan ceases to appear instead as a great chessboard on which the manifold game of life is in active progress”. [Geddes, 1919 as in Tyrwhitt 1947: 26-27]
The evolutionary layering of urban form and meaning which Geddes uncovered as a town planner needs to be explored in historic studies of Dhaka. This article initially tries to identify the primary spatial patterns existing in Dhaka since its inception. Moreover, it aims to investigate the spatial dynamics of urban growth of Dhaka by analyzing the configuration of the urban grid and the resultant urban form in its historical perspective. It tries to pinpoint how the cumulative process of growth and consolidation has influenced the organic spatial structure of Dhaka. Fig: 1] It also endeavors to reveal the fundamental relation between configuration of space in an organic city like Dhaka and the way that it functions. 3. Urban Spatial Patterns in Dhaka Today’s Dhaka represents a composite form developed through ages. Its fundamental organic spatial homogeneity is interrupted at times by the patches of grid patterns. It is observes that there are five distinctive and co-existent urban arrangements are prevalent in Dhaka. These can also be marked as ecological units, which are i] the old city ii] Civil Lines iii] New Indigenous or Informal communities; iv] the Planned Schemes and v] the Squatters’ Clusters.
The squatters’ clusters are mostly transient in nature. However, the spatial pattern of the other four ecological types is discussed here. [Fig. 2 & 3] 3. 1 Indigenous Historic Structure Its organic character of the historic part is particularly distinctive with the densely built-up areas in comparison to the looseness of the later developments. Thus, like most Indian towns, the historical spatial structure of old Dhaka remains as the relic of the past. The pattern that exists in the old city is the winding and intricate street network and the walls defining the houses.
The streets in the historic part were narrow. They were continuously twisted in and out, and were tortuous to an extreme degree in some places. The dead-end passages sometimes cut deep inside the urban block presenting a series of sharp turns. These were found indiscriminately along both the thoroughfares and the alleys. This pattern is more persistent in old city. However, a few long lines passed through the residential areas, which gave rise to another type of urban pattern e. g. Shankhari Bazaar Road, Tanti Bazaar Road.
These were mainly the commercial interfaces of the city; and such areas have no lanes and by lanes as the access are from single bazaar streets. These streets are defined by closely spaced buildings in contrast to the former pattern where buildings are loosely spaced. Thus two distinct urban patterns exist in the old city. [Khan, 1982] However, the urban blocks of the latter type took more usual form of an accumulation of burgage plots whilst that of the former were divided by the dominant system of land holdings into smaller rectangular areas or segments. Fig. 3a] 2. 2. Colonial Interventions – Civil lines A general grid pattern with broad traversing streets and rectangular blocks was proposed for the modernization of the historic city of Dhaka by Dr. Henry Charles Cutcliff, a British reformer. A radical engineering approach was needed in order to drive the broad straight streets through the crowded confusion of the city quarters. Although the scheme was not adopted in its entirety, it seems that all the later improvement of Dhaka was essentially based upon it. Ahmed, 1986: 182] In a later period Patrick Geddes was sensitive in dealing with historic areas and emphasized the ameliorative change through ‘conservative surgery’. [Geddes, 1917] Therefore, except in the northern extension of the historic core in and around Ramna area representing an orthogonal grid, the remaining historic city appears as ‘organic’. [Fig: 2] Consequently, the colonial city of Dhaka is not that visible as their intervention was limited within the linear ‘civil line’ development along a few streets and the grid pattern of the ‘Paltan’ [Cantonment].
Gupta claims that ‘whereas the presidency towns were wholly planned on the grid in Europe, contemporary British Indian towns had only small sections planned, and subsequent growth was by accretion, in an ad hoc manner, by taking in adjacent villages’. [Gupta, 1991: 596] However, the civil lines in the sub-continental cities were laid out as the British Precinct in the mid nineteenth century. Minto Road, Hare Road, Bailey Road, and Park Road are such developments in Dhaka outside the historic core. Their arrangement represents a formal and spacious one which is totally different in look from the dense development of the previous time.
These were like Victorian suburbs characterized by low-density, horizontal development and broad tree lined roads giving access to a system of large compounds containing spacious single Bungalows in each plot. However, such pattern is being extinguished from the present urban form of Dhaka. 2. 3. New Indigenous Communities – Informal Layout Another socio-spatial idiom in Dhaka is that of the upgraded indigenous neighbourhood, such areas like Kalabagan, Kathalbagan, Razabazaar, Mogbazaar, Malibagh etc. [Fig. c] They are labyrinthine mixture of lanes, by-lanes and cul-de-sacks like old Dhaka but wider and less intricate than the older city roads. They seem like the representations of traditional indigenous urban developments in the setting of a modern background. However, the formation of the blocks and main streets mainly followed the proposals of the Master Plan of 1959 and appear as longer and wider lines in the city structure. The inner roads or alleys are again narrow and winding ones. Mostly they are organic in growth as they generate with the increasing plot division.
Land uses are of a mixed type, however residential use gets prominence. The main thoroughfares become the major shopping strips and most buildings are designed to accommodate shops at the ground level. Generally the land use pattern resembles the old city rather than the civil lines. House design combines modern and traditional features in a harmonious blend. They cover the whole plot most of the time leaving narrow strips beside boundary walls as dictated by the planning authority but not like the courtyard houses of the old Dhaka.
These popular settlements are very much like the old city development but the planning rules gave them a new look. 2. 4. Planned Schemes – Geometric Layout The grid pattern of roads was introduced in the city for the first time in Wari and Gandaria in 1885. The state sponsored planned extensions for the upper classes were contrasted with the unsanctioned, spontaneous, tawdry development in the old city. Comprehensively planned residential areas of Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara and Uttara etc. re the successors of this type. Their street layout follows a rigid gridiron pattern with some semicircular arcs. [Fig. 3b] The land formation exerted a little influence on the new development and this why they are found globally to be in some way more logical or imposed upon their surroundings. The high space and service standards and physical designs of these schemes have an aura of Western suburbia, modernity, and status. They essentially follow the civil lines model, though without the Imperial grandeur.
Such planned schemes were generally situated at the fringes when the plans were undertaken; however now a days they are surrounded by the high density low income living due to the increase of population. 3. Spatial Dynamics of Growing City: Urban core and functional pattern in Dhaka Above the levels of technology and economic condition of the population, the patterns of areal expansion and the urban form of Dhaka have been dominated largely by the physical configuration of the landscape in and around the city, particularly the river system and the height of land in relation to flood level. Islam, 1996: 191] Thus the ground plan of Dhaka shows a less systematic form possessing a kind of homogeneity depending on the continued adaptation to the land morphology and also possibly to the culturally derived patterns in the historic core. Thus guided by the natural determinants, however, the demand of its dwellers shaped it as a city of variety. The shifting pattern of land use distribution, mainly that of commercial activities, in Dhaka seems not follow the categories commonly used by the literature of city planning and urbanization for western cities and even specifically for south-east Asian cities. Mollah, 1976: 39] Although it is claimed that the generalized functional growth pattern of Dhaka is concentric around the business districts [Chowdhury, 1981: 15], the character of – ‘Concentric Zones’ seems not to be applicable here because the phenomena they describe assume consistency and continuity of a feature, whereas Dhaka is characterized by discontinuities of factors and multiplicity of sectors and circuits. Indeed, historians assert that the fundamental source of the life of Dhaka had been determined by political considerations as these have unfolded over time. Ahsan, 1991: 397] In fact, Dhaka faced six major phases of socio-economic and political changes during it’s evolution. The following part of discussion seeks to understand the morphological changes of the urban core of spatial structure of Dhaka since historical time by analyzing available maps from 1859 – 2007 and simulating two previous stages [Pre-mughal and Mughal Period]. Two maps are available from Pakistan period; one is of 1952 at the inception of Pakistan with the indigenous city and the colonial development seen as a whole; and the other is of 1960.
Besides, four maps are considered from the Bangladesh era [Maps of 1973, 1987 and 1995 are prepared by the ‘Survey of Bangladesh’, and Map of 2007 is prepared by DCC]. This study tries to pinpoint how the cumulative process of growth and consolidation has influenced the spatial structure of Dhaka at a global scale by using the tool of ‘Space Syntax' as developed by AAS, Bartlett, UCL, London. Here the spatial structure of Dhaka city is modeled with axial lines following the conception of Space Syntax and the axial maps are analyzed with Depthmap to identify the integration coreof the spatial structure of the whole city.
The brief historical overview has been highlighted the fact that as Dhaka has grown in size, scale and extent, and the distribution of urban functions has evolved and changed according to the dictates of political and commercial considerations. However, it is not clear whether these changes were arbitrary, or whether there was any logic to the pattern of relocation. In what follows, integration analysis by the Space Syntax will explore the way in which urban growth brought about changes in the configuration of the urban grid, and hence in the distribution of integration throughout the city.
These purely configurational changes are considered in relation to the changing pattern of urban functions, to see if they relate to one another in a systematic way. This study tries to explore the fundamental relation between the configuration of space in Dhaka and the way that it functions. Finally, it determines the spatial structure of Dhaka’s urban core and the process of it’s transformation through ages. 3. 1. Pre-Mughal Hindu Core of Dhaka [before 1608]: Dhaka was a small Hindu trading centre in Pre-Mughal time. As revealed from cartographic evidences the area lying to the east, north-east and south-east f Babur Bazaar going up to the Dholai River on the northern bank of the Buriganga seems to face the old town. It is now thought that Dhaka was confined between the Dholai Canal [on the north east boundary of the city] and the Buriganga River from its inception until 1608, which ushered in the Mughal period. The oldest city consisted of a few market centers like Lakshmi Bazaar, Bangla Bazaar, Shankhari Bazaar, Tanti Bazaar etc. along with a few localities of craftsman and businessmen like Patua-toli, Kumar-toli etc. [Dani, 1956: 7] The centre is thought to have been near the Bangla Bazaar.
According to Dani, the main business area was in Sadar Ghat and Victoria Park, which had extended upto Nawabpur Road in later part of 15th century [Ahsan, 1991:397- 398]. No detailed maps from this period are available on which to develop an axial model. However, in order to remake the picture of the past, a reconstruction of the Hindu core has been developed here from the oldest detailed map of Dhaka in 1859 [prepared by Rennell].  The spatial analysis of axial map shows that in the pre-Mughal Dhaka, the global integration core was formed with Nawabpur Road-Johnson Road leading towards the Sadar Ghat.
It also touched part of Islampur Road, Bangshal Road and Shankhari Bazar Road. This loop like core coincided with the functional heart of the city as described by Dani. [Fig. 4] 3. 2. Mughal Dhaka [1608- 1764]: Dhaka rose to prominence only after it became the capital of Bengal during the Mughal rule in 1610 AD. [Bhattacharya, 1935: 36-63] The then ‘New Dhaka’ was inaugurated by Islam Khan with the establishment of Lalbagh Fort in 1679, Chandnighat and the Chawk [the market place beside the old fort at present Central Jail]; and it continued to grow under the subsequent Mughal Subaders until 1717. Dani, 1956: 31] According to Manrique, a visitor to the city, in 1640 the city stretched for 4. 5 miles along the Buriganga river with a population of about 200 thousand [excluding the Europeans and the visitors] [Taifoor, 1956: 15] which raised to 9,00,000 in 1700. During this period, the needs of administration and defence coupled with flourishing commercial activities led to Dhaka’s growth, and from a suburban town Dhaka became a metropolis. [Khan & Atiquallah, 1965: 2-6] In time, Dhaka grew beyond the limit of the Dholai Canal; and the ‘Mughal Dhaka’ had encompassed the pre-Mughal core. [Fig. ] In 1640 the expansion to the west [to Maneswar and Hazaribagh] and the north [up to Phulbaria, on the fringe of the Ramna area] was significant; besides it’s eastern limit was up to Narandiu [Narinda] [Manrique as in Chowdhury and Faruqui, 1991: 48] Bradley-Birt described as “away beyond for fourteen miles, the city stretched as far as Tongi, a vast labyrinth of streets and villages, the camps of armies and all that followed in their terrain” [Bradley-Birt, 1975: 159]. However, the Mughal ruins identified the extension of the Mughal city mainly to the west of the Fort and following the river bank.
The expansion occurred with the ‘Old Fort’ in the centre. In this growth of Mughal Dhaka the general characteristics of a Mughal city are noticeable. The Fort served as the nerve centre of the city, and the adjacent market places and the surrounding mohallas growing out of the residential needs follow the well established pattern with winding roads. The areas to the south and south-west of the Fort up to the river bank grew mainly as commercial areas and the areas to the north and north- east grew as residential areas. Chowdhury & Faruqui, 1991: 48] The Chawk with the mosque was the main market place of Mughal Dhaka and the river front was transformed into the main commercial area. However, the older part of the city also gained importance by the establishment of European factories in the vicinity of Babur Bazaar and Bangla Bazaar. [Ahsan, 1991: 398] There were two principal roads/thoroughfares in the city. One running parallel to the river from Victoria park to the western fringe of the city and other ran from the park to Tejgaon.
The glory of Dhaka came to an end by the early part of the 18th century with the shifting of the provincial capital from Dhaka to Murshidabad in 1717. In this period the activities of the European traders increased. So the life of Dhaka city was still thriving and it continued in its earlier setting without any farther expansion. [Chowdhury & Faruqui, 1991: 52] In the absence of a detailed map of Mughal Dhaka, a second reconstruction was developed during this research based on a combination of historical documents and the findings of other researchers who have tried to define the boundary of the Mughal capital, Dhaka.
It too is based on the original map of 1859. The spatial analysis of Mughal Dhaka produced a global integration core along Bangshal Road which was linked up with Nawabpur Road. Thus, in the Mughal period, the integration core lay on the northern periphery of the city seemingly as an extension of the pre-Mughal global core. The historical statement that the Fort served as the nerve centre of the city does not fit with the syntactic analysis; rather the global integration core connected the Mughal centre [the Chawk and the old fort] with the Hindu core [Bangla Bazaar & surrounding the present Court House area].
The integration core therefore connected the administrative and commercial foci as described earlier by historians, but seems to leave out the city life on the river side. When the river was also considered as a route, and connected to the street system through its ports the global core has a dramatic shift from the northern periphery towards the river front which reveals a probable importance of the river on the life of Dhaka at that period. [Nilufar, 1997:111] However, the spatial analysis reveals that the integration core of Mughal Dhaka was an extension of the pre-Mughal core.
It also connected the Mughal and pre-Mughal functional cores with bazaar streets. However, Islampur Road had not yet gained spatial importance globally. [Nilufar, 1997: 113] 3. 3 Dhaka in the Pre-Colonial Period- Rule of the East India Company [1764-1857]: With the fall of the Mughal Empire in 1707 Dhaka faced a serious decline in economy, population and administrative importance which caused the subsequent contraction of urban area. An English trading company attained political domination and took over the control of Dhaka city in 1764.
Most of the commercial activities which survived were carried out in the enclosure of Chawk [Ahsan, 1991: 401]; and the old fort and its surroundings remained the heart of the city where all the central and provincial offices were also located. [Ahmed, 1986: 130-143] In 1800 population of Dhaka declined to 200 thousands, like that of 160 years back. According to Rennell the city was four miles long and two and half miles wide in 1793 which reduced to three miles in length and one and half mile in width in 1814. Mamun, 1990: 49] In 1859, Rennell prepared a map of Dhaka city as extending from Narayanganj to Iron Bridge and from the Buriganga river to Nimtali Kothi [present Asiatic Society]. In this map the jungles indicate a decline in population and a subsequent contraction of urban area. In fact the decline in economy, population and administrative importance brought about shrinkage in the area of Dhaka city. [Fig 6] The axial analysis of the spatial system of 1859’s Dhaka depicted that the city had densely inhabited areas in the pre-Mughal Hindu core extending towards the Mughal centre [the Chawk].
At this period, most of the areas to the west of the Mughal centre were segregated. The global integration core took the shape of a loop connecting the pre-Mughal global core to the Chawk, and also leading towards north [in Purana Paltan area] thus reaching out towards the extending city. The river side also got importance in the spatial structure. This phase might be called the period of unification, when the pre-Mughal and Mughal centres were joined, and projected outwards in the direction of the future city and the river.
The most integrated line was Bangshal Road, and the next was Nawabpur Road, the two bazaar streets. Thus, the global integration core largely coincided with the commercial interface which was the focus of the city life. Again, the administrative areas were also linked to the core at its southern edge. In order to avoid the influence of the uninhabited garden areas in the north, the built-up areas of the 1859 spatial structure were analyzed separately but no changes occurred in the picture of integration with respect to Islampur Road. Fig. 8] This might indicate that this bazaar street could not gain any significant global importance in the city structure around 1859. However, Islampur Road and a number of bazaar streets were locally important. [Nilufar, 1997: 112] 3. 4. British Colonization of Dhaka [1858-1947]: The old Mughal town did not expand with British rule, but it underwent a vast physical renewal following no definite plan. This transformed the medieval Dhaka into a modern city with metalled roads, open spaces, street lights and piped water supply. Ahmed, 1986:130-143] The State Railway was opened in 1885-86 and the rail line was laid through the city to connect it with areas outside Dhaka. The placement of the railway line gives an idea about the existence of the main city to the quarters south and west of the loop formed by the railway line. However, the building of a new town started beyond the rail road in Ramna. [Ahsan, 1991: 401] However, most of the residential quarters were within the historic core; and the river front and the area near the Victoria Park was a prized location for high class residents. Islam, 1996: 14] An irregular road pattern was prevalent to the south in the historic core; while the grid pattern of roads was introduced in the city for the first time in 1885 in Wari and Gandaria as planned residential areas. Hazaribagh, Nawabganj areas in the western quarter of the city, were developed in the same period as industrial areas. [Chowdhury ; Faruqui, 1991: 54-55] Civil lines were also added beyond the city limit in 1906. The British crown shifted the administrative centre from the old fort area, and new buildings were constructed on a new site near Victoria Park, on the present site of the Court House. Ahmed, 1986: 141] From Mughal time the Chawk Bazaar had been the main centre of the city’s trade and commerce in Dhaka, and it remained so after 1859. The business areas during this period extended towards the north by way of the Nawabpur Road into Ramna to serve the British bureaucrats who lived in the new town. [Ahsan, 1991: 402] In 1905, in the middle stage of the British era, Bengal was divided and Dhaka was chosen as the capital of the eastern part. [Islam, 1991: 197] Another significant incidence to the city of Dhaka was the foundation of Dhaka University in the vicinity of Ramna in 1921.
Early records of the East India Company  describe the city boundary as: Buriganga in south, Tongi in the north, Mirpur in the west and Postogola in the east. [Karim, 1964: 37] Although it was the overall limit of the city by the end of the 18th century, the area lying to the north of Mir Jumla’s gate [near Ramna] was very sparsely populated. According to Rennell, the population decline which started from 1764 reached its lowest ebb in 1867 when the population reduced to 51,636. Since 1872 the population recorded a continuous growth.
The spatial pattern was changed in this phase by the extensions at the periphery and by an increase in destiny within the built up areas with densely packed, short and tree-like broken lines. In the map of 1916, the global integration core was pushed towards the north near the Ramna Garden where the newly-planned, relatively orthogonal grid was being introduced. Thus the most integrated lines were in the area where the old [pre-British] part met the new [developed in the British era], which indicated a change in the social life of the city during the colonial period. [Fig. ] In order to have an idea about the life of the people who were living in the densely built up areas of the old city, the built up area in 1916 was analyzed syntactically without the colonial additions. [Fig . 8] In this analysis, the higher global integration values were attained by the bazaar streets, Islampur Road and Nawabpur Road. Thus the most integrated lines extended parallel to the river, forming a linear integration core which coincided with the functional core of the city. It seems that Islampur Road attained its spatial significance in the old city only from the colonial era. . 5. Dhaka as the Capital of Pakistan [1947-1971]: In 1947, the British Colony achieved its independence after two hundred years of colonization and Dhaka attained the status of the provincial capital of the East Pakistan. Unlike many colonial cities in India, the colonial influence on Dhaka could not be claimed as substantial. The overall expansion of the city began from 1947. [Huq, 1991: 428] Administrative, commercial and residential needs caused an influx of people and it resulted in a massive growth of the city. The city expanded mainly towards the north.
Dhanmondi area, as previously adorned with paddy fields, lying towards the north-west fringe of Dhaka turned into a residential area after 1955. The Mirpur Road formed an axis and high lands on either side were occupied up to Mohammadpur and Mirpur. The high land available in north-east and north-west of Ramna within different pockets between the previously developed areas like Purana Paltan to Naya Paltan, Eskaton to Mogbazaar, Siddheswari and Kakrail to Kamlapur through Razarbagh and Santinager, Segun Bagicha – all came to be occupied mostly by residential use.
All these happened without any formal planning. Then the government founded Dacca Improvement Trust [DIT] in 1956 and started planning in a piecemeal manner: industrial district in Tejgaon, New Market in Azimpur, staff housing in Motijheel, high class residential area in Dhanmondi. However, at this stage there was no plan for the future growth. In the meanwhile Dhaka was becoming more and more unmanageable. So a Master Plan was eventually prepared by consultants in 1959 on behalf of DIT. 10] The DIT developed Gulshan model town in 1961, Banani in 1964, Uttara in 1965 and Baridhara in 1972 [though first conceived in 1962]. In the mid 60’s the Railway line was shifted, the track was turned eastward as necessitated by the developmental thrusts. The railway track was transformed into a wide road connecting the new extension and the Mughal Dhaka. The Secretariat of the province, East Pakistan, was set up in the old Eden Girl’s College at the end of the Abdul Ghani Road. [Ahsan, 1991: 412] In the 1960’s, the administrative centre was well developed on the eastern side of Ramna area and around Gulistan.
The modern core of the central business district [CBD] was located in the Motijheel-Gulistan area. However, the Chawk, Patuatoli, and Shadar Ghat remained the traditional business centre. [Ahsan, 1991: 404] [Fig. 5] Two maps are available from this period; one is of 1952 at the inception of Pakistan and the other is of 1960. The first stage could be considered as a complete reflection of the British influence, with the indigenous city and the colonial development seen as a whole. During the 1960’s Dhaka was expanding in all respects.
The extension of Dhaka in 1952 beyond the previous stage was limited within some administrative, institutional and industrial development mainly in Tejgaon and near today’s Sher-E-Bangla Nagar area, which were the earlier location of the British residential and industrial concentrations. The total system was made up of the intricate and dense organic development in the riverside, i. e. the old city, as the integrated space structure; and very loosely built areas in the northern part of Ramna and in Tejgaon as the segregated parts. Fig 9] The global integration core [R=n] took the form of a fork with a long tail. This revealed a strong connection between the existing old city to the south and the flourishing new city towards the north. Abdul Ghani Road-Government House Road jointly formed the most integrated line. Along this road the major administrative uses i. e. the then heart of the new democratic nation were located. The core also connected to Dhaka University which was a very prominent interface for city’s life at that period.
Thus the spatial analysis represented the socio-political interface of the city in the global core of Dhaka in those days. The next available map is of the year 1960. It was the middle phase of the Pakistan period. The city had grown much in comparison to the previous stage and it revealed as an integrated whole with some segregated parts at its northern and eastern extremes. Beside the riverside dense development of the old city, planned areas were incorporated in a fairly scattered way and a concentric development in the eastern part was also included.
All the new areas were loosely developed but within the framework of the global structure of the city. Within this total structure, the old city appeared as the segregated part. The integration core was very much at the physical centre of the city; and all the highly integrated lines were within the newer parts of Dhaka. The global core was a continuous loop forming three rings, with a long tail linking Motijheel, the commercial centre of the city. All these provide an evidence of a shift in importance from the old city towards the newer part.
Another important feature was the ringy and hollow core which contained large pockets of un-built and open areas. The pattern of integration highlighted the importance of Dhaka University and the shifting process of the CBD from Gulistan towards Newmarket in this period in the city’s life. As compared to more established western cities, it can be suggested that such a hollow core might be a characteristic feature of rapidly developing cities like Dhaka. 3. 6 Dhaka as the Capital of Bangladesh [1971-2010]: The country was made independent in 1971, and Dhaka became the capital of an independent Bangladesh. The growth of Dhaka city in the 50’s could very well be termed as slow and gradual, in the 60’s the pace picked up and in the period after the emergence of Bangladesh it could be said to be phenomenal. [Chowdhury ; Faruqui, 1991: 60] The growth of Dhaka from 1949 to 1989 followed the limits determined by the Mughals [i. e. towards north up to Tongi, up to Mirpur in north-west, up to Postagola in south- east]. However the growth caused many low lands to be filled up and all the low lying areas on the eastern and western side came under occupation.
With the rise of population pressure the high lands spreading towards the north came to be occupied. No serious effort has been undertaken to create a planned city. Although a detailed study on urban aspects was undertaken in 1981, it was not materialized. Dhaka has been growing by its own demand. However, a Structure Plan has been formulated in 1995 for the capital city. The Detailed Area Plan of that Structure Plan is under process at present . After the liberation of Bangladesh, a new CBD developed which was centered on Bijoynagar, the D.
I. T Extension Road and Toyenbee Circular Road. A second CBD emerged in the New Market and its surrounding areas, which suggests that the CBD will further extend northwards from the existing old CBD. [Chowdhury, 1981: 47] But with time the land use pattern was modified, and shopping activities were dispersed from Gulistan to a number of shopping streets. Although the major commercial buildings were still [in the 1980’s] concentrated in the Motijheel area, the activities of CBD also became diffused. Ahsan, 1991: 12-13] The land use map of 1995 shows that the administrative buildings and commercial uses spreaded out beyond the pattern of 1980’s. New pockets of government institutions and commercial uses have extended northwards from Motijheel towards the Kawran Bazaar, Agargoan and Sher-E-Bangla Nagar area. [Fig 10 and 11] Four maps are used from this part. They are representative of 1973 [the beginning of Bangladesh], 1987, 1995 and 2007. The map of 1973 shows a full delineation of development that had taken place during the Pakistan period and the map of 2007 depicts the current situation.
By 1973, the growth indicated by the previous stage comes to fruition. But the tendency to consolidate the urban grid was much more striking at the periphery than in the centre. This process actually enhanced the existence of the hollow core at the centre which was identical to the 1960’s core except for the exclusion of Court House Road. This provides further evidence of the exclusion of the old city from the global picture of the city. Local integration shows a similar picture to the previous stage [Nilufar, 1997: 115].
By the year 1987 the city was densely built up to half of its extent along its north- south axis. At the northern extreme, there are two planned developments, Mirpur and Uttara, which appears as segregated parts of the city. [Fig. 12] The integration structure of the year 1987 is very similar to the next and next stage, 1995. In 1995, the total structure the city seems well balanced with integrated parts at the physical centre and segregated parts towards the periphery; thus, there is a distinct edge effect leaving all the peripheral areas egregated. But the segregation is not an abrupt one, rather a gradual detachment. The global integration core consists of two reverse wedges which coincide with three major thoroughfares [Mirpur Road, Mymensingh Road and Green Road] which are the functional core in reality. Lake Road on the upper side of the left wedge could be considered as the ceremonial axis of the city. The core is inclined towards the west with respect to the total city structure, leaving the old city and the Motijheel outside.
However, irrespective of the spatial system, the functional importance of Motijheel seems to work as a modifier to the whole system and it still acts as the commercial heart of the city. But this spatial analysis pre-figures future change in the importance of Motijheel in the life of the city, when it is set in the context of the extended global structure of Dhaka. The map of 2007 shows that the city has physically extended and it also has experienced extensive internal densification as well as linking corridors.
There are infill developments in the low lying areas which has already been started in both Western and Eastern fringes. Due to newer link roads from south to north, the integration core has a northward pull. There is an indication of two types of areas in Dhaka – one is the integrated center [from Sher-E-Bangla Nagar to Shahbagh in north-south direction; and Outer Circular Road to Dhanmondi in east- west direction] and the other is segregated periphery [including old Dhaka, Mohammadpur, Mirpur,Goran and Uttara in south, west, east and south direction respectively]. Fig. 13] The physical extension of integration core corresponds to the development of polycentric functional centers of Dhaka. Moreover, the planned areas, as developed in piece meal manner, have greater impact form the organic city grid as it engulfs the planned areas in course of time. [Khan and Nilufar, 2009] 4. General characteristics of the Spatial Structure of Dhaka From the study presented here, some general comments can now be made for the city of Dhaka. The points observed are as follows: a.
Like many other cities two primary versions of urban arrangement, the planned and organic, exist side by side in the context of Dhaka. In most western cases of urban development the new additions to the dense medieval cores of historic towns were always regular and the colonial addition to the native towns in Indian and African cities took the form of a grand geometric designs. But Dhaka had no such ‘created city’, and the historical city with indigenous organic morphology had newer additions both as planned and unplanned or organic pattern.
The contemporary axial map of the city depicts a curious mix of these two patterns on the same canvas. [Fig. 1] The differentiation is self evident although the ‘created’ and the ‘generated’ areas stand side by side. These pieces of areas could be identified as distinctive morphological ‘clusters’; among them most of the regularly ordered patterns are the geometric grids set at once, whereas the spontaneous growth of the organic areas have gradual development and could be best defined as ‘geomorphic’.
The areas within each cluster seem to be naturally grouped together. b. Although guided by the natural determinants, the demand of its dwellers shaped it as a city of variety. The shifting pattern of land use distribution, mainly that of commercial activities, in Dhaka seems not follow the categories commonly used by the literature of city planning and urbanization for western cities and even specifically for south-east Asian cities. Mollah, 1976: 39] Although it is claimed that the generalized functional growth pattern of Dhaka is concentric around the business districts [Chowdhury, 1981: 15], the character of ‘Concentric Zones’ seems not to be applicable here because the phenomena they describe assume consistency and continuity of a feature, whereas Dhaka is characterized by discontinuities of factors and multiplicity of sectors and circuits. “It has been increasingly recognized that Middle Eastern and Sub-continental cities are comprehensible in terms of ecological districts, and not as zones of segregated activities. [Qadeer, 1983: 176] This present research identifies five constituent units of Dhaka, which are i] the old city ii] Civil Lines iii] the Planned Schemes iv] New Indigenous or Informal communities, and v] The Squatters’ Clusters. [Fig 2 & 3] . c. Although the city has experienced a gradual growth physically, certain stages were significant and had retained their own morphological character in spite of later growth. The old city had such a dominating effect, at least spatially. Its morphology was particularly distinctive because of the density of its built up areas by comparison with the looseness of the later developments.
The spatial analysis shows that the dispersed development outside the old core had changed the global character of the city. However, while the old Dhaka is modeled independently, the importance of the Islampur road as a global integrator in the context of the old city itself has been revealed [Fig 8]. Furthermore, another important character of the historic city is that the bazaar streets feature as locally important segments over time. [Nilufar, 1997] The analysis leads to a general conclusion that the old city had its own global, as well as local structure, different from that of the total city. d.
The commercial centre systematically declines in importance with each subsequent stage of growth. In the middle stages [1952, 1960, 1973] the global core shifted from the old city commercial areas, Islampur Road and Nawabpur Road towards Motijheel, and in the most recent stages [1995, 2007] the city has again shifted its focus from Motijheel to the new commercial development in the Kawranbazar area, leading to Gulshan and Banani in recent times. This result is based on the changing character of the global integration core at different phases, which is always influenced by the pull of the new extensions. . With all it’s idiosyncrasies from the established planning theories, the harmonious development of Dhaka’s land use with its morphological transformations is significant. It is revealed in this analytic paper that the global core of the total spatial system of Dhaka at different stages identified the functional core, both commercial and administrative, of the city in each corresponding period. [Nilufar, 1999] With time this core shifted, showing a consistent shift in the relative importance of the historic core relative to the global spatial system of the growing city.
Historically, the global integration core was limited within the old city, but with the florescence of new Dhaka, the global integration core has shifted towards the north and has now covers a large part of the city located centrally. The core appears to have a socio-spatial character in which it connects the activity centers, like Chawk, Fort etc. , and supports bazaar activities along its path. More over, the linear cores of traditional period have changed into ringy and hollow ones which contained large pockets of un-built and open areas.
As compared to more established western cities, this might be referred to as a condition of unplanned growth in rapidly developing cities. f. The major finding of the study is that the old part of the city is becoming increasingly segregated from the life of the new core day by day, and although the global core has been more or less static for the last two decades, the growth of vast developments in all the peripheral areas except the south may lead to its beginning to move once again in the not too distant future. 5. Conclusion The 400 years’ history of Dhaka shows that the city has grown and enlarged to a significant scale.
It is evident that basic idea comes from the indigenous structure of the medieval city, but the spatial enlargement gives a vision of the new world. In spite of a small amount of planning, the organic morphology dominates the global structure of the city. Indeed, the organic spatial structure of Dhaka seems to be resulting from a set of rules which are very different to those of the planned or designed areas, while at the same time presenting some common properties with respect to the grid structure. Morphologically the spatial structure of the organic city has no great changes from the old to the new.
Even so, large scale changes take place at the global disposition. In conclusion, it may be stated that cities like Dhaka grow and change in response to major political, economic and social forces, and function follows the evolving form at least as reliably as ‘form follows function’. In this way, the syntactic analysis of organic morphology of Dhaka helps to define the inner logic of the organic city grid and pre-figures the future functional concentration of the city. References Akramuzzaman, Malik , “Morphological Study of the New Town of Dacca City”. Unpublished M. A.
Dissertation, Department of Geography, Dhaka University. Ahmed, Sharif Uddin , Dacca: A study in Urban History and Development. London: Curzon Press Ahsan, R. Majid , “Changing Pattern of the Commercial Area of the Dhaka City”, in Sharif Uddin Ahmed [ed. ], Dhaka Past Present Future. Dhaka: The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. p. 396- 414. Bhattacharya, S. N. , Dhaka University Studies, Vol. 1 No. 1 Nov. Bradley-Birt, F. B. , Romance of an Eastern Capital. Delhi: Metropolitan Book. Chaudhuri, Susil , Trade and Commercial Organisation in Bengal [1650-1720].
Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay. Chowdhury, A. H. M. Nizamuddin , “The Central Business District of Dacca -A Structural Change with the Growth of the City”. Unpublished M. Sc. Dissertation, Uppsala University, Sewden. Chowdhury, A. M. ; Faruqui, Shabnam , “Physical Growth of Dhaka”, in Sharif Uddin Ahmed [ed. ], Dhaka Past Present Future. Dhaka: The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. p. 43- 63. Dani, A. Hasan , Dacca: A Record of it’s Changing Fortune. Dhaka: Asiatic Press. Geddes, Patric , Report on Town Planning, Dacca. Bengal Secretariat Book Report, Calcutta.
Gupta, Narayani. , “Urbanisation in South Asia in the Colonial Centuries”, in Sharif Uddin Ahmed [ed. ], Dhaka Past Present Future. Dhaka: The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. p. 595-605. Islam, Nazrul and Khan, F. Karim , “High Class Residential Areas in Dacca City”, in The Oriental Geographer, Vol. viii . p. 1-41. Islam, M. Nazrul , Dhaka from City to Megacity. Dhaka: Urban Studies Programme, Department of Geography, Dhaka University. Karim, A. , Dacca: the Mughal Capital. Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Pakistan. Khan F. Karim. and Atiquallah, M. 1965],” Growth of Dacca City- Population and Area [1608- 1981]”, Social Science Research Project, Dept. of Statistics. Dacca University. Khan, Iftekher M. , “Alternative Approach to the Redevelopment of Old Dacca”, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Khan, Nayma and Nilufar, Farida,  “Spatial Logic of Morphological Transformation A Paradigm of Planned – Unplanned Areas in Dhaka city” Published in the CD Proceedings of 7th Space Syntax Symposium, Organized by School of Architecture, KTH, on 8-11 June 2009, in Stockholm, Sweden. ttp://www. sss7. org/Proceedings_05. html Huq, A. T. M. Zahirul,  “Transport Planning For Dhaka City” in Sharif Uddin Ahmed [ed] Dhaka Past Present Future. The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka Mollah, Md. Khairul Islam , “Commercial Structure of Dacca with Special Reference to Retailing”, Unpublished Master’s Dissertation, Geography Department, Dhaka University Nilufar, Farida,  “The Spatial and Social Structuring of Local Areas in Dhaka City – A Morphological Study of the Urban Grid with Reference to Neighbourhood Character within Naturally-grown Areas”.
Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, The University of London. Nilufar, Farida,  “Spatial Structure of Urban Core and the Process of Transformation in Dhaka”, Proceedings of the Sixth International Seminar on Urban Form [ISUF 1999], UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI, Departmentimento di Progettazione dell’ Architettura, via Covour, 82-50129 Firenze, Italy. 23-26 July 1999. pp FM2. 23-2. 26 Mamun, Muntasir , Coronel Davidson Jokhon Dhakay. [Bengali] Dhaka: Pallab Publishers. Qadeer, Muhammmad A. 1983], Lahore -Urban development in the Third World. Lahore: Vangurd. Spodek, Howard , “Beyond Research Tests: Palimpsest and Nodes, Conflicts and Consciousness in south Asian Urban theory”, in Howard Spodek and Doris Meth Srinivasan [eds. ], Urban Form and Meaning in South Asia: The Shaping of Cities from Prehistoric to Pre-colonial Times. Washington: National Gallery of Art. p. 255-267. Taifoor, Syed Muhammed , Glimpses of Old Dhaka. Dhaka: Pioneer. Tyrwhitt, Jacqueline [ed. ] , Patrick Geddes in India.
London: Lund Humphies. Dhaka Metropolitan area Integrated Urban Development Project [DMAIUDP], , Final Report. Vol. 2. Dhaka. List of Figures: Fig 1: Organic & Planned Morphology of Dhaka city  Fig 2: Colonial Spatial Patterns Fig 3: Different Spatial Patterns in Dhaka Fig 4: Global Integration core of pre-Mughal and Mughal Dhaka Fig 5: Land use Maps of Dhaka [1700 – 1962] Fig 6: Rennell’s Map of Dhaka  and Global Integration [R=n] in 1859 Fig 7: Global Integration [R=n] of Dhaka in 1916
Fig 8: Global Integration [R=n] cores of Old Dhaka [built-up areas] Fig 9: Global Integration [R=n] cores of Dhaka in 1952 &1960 Fig. 10: Land use Map of Dhaka 1975. Source: Nazrul Islam 1996 Fig. 11: Land use Map of Dhaka 1995, Source: Nazrul Islam 1996 Fig. 12: Global Integration Core of Dhaka in 1973 & 1987 Fig. 13: Global Integration Core of Dhaka in 1995 & 2007 ———————–  Bengal was a province [Suba] of the Mughal Empire. Geographically the territory of Bengal composed the East and West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Chaudhuri, 1975:1] Dhaka was part of East Bengal.  The shifting of Lt. Swinton’s residence from the Afghan Fort [Lalbagh Fort] of the old part of the town to Nimtali, a new area outside the northern edge of the former settlement, reveals the earliest impetus in the growth of a ‘new town’ towards north around 1764. [Akramuzzaman, 1966: 32]  Space Syntax defines the degree of spatial order which exists in organic and planned layouts, by analysing their spatial configurations.
It also proposes a fundamental relation between configuration of space in a city and the way it functions.  Axial map is the basis of layout analysis. This refers how far observer can have an uninterrupted impression of visibility and permeability as they move about town and look at distance towards the various directions. The map is derived by drawing the fewest and longest lines of uninterrupted permeability, which are necessary to cover all public open space of an area the size of the system is measured in terms of the number of lines. [Hillier and Hanson 1984] 5] Depthmap is primarily a computer-based program to perform configurational analyses, which come under the umbrella term of `space syntax’. Space syntax analyses examine the relationships between components of space; each analysis starts with a representation of the spatial components, then makes a graph of these components, and finally analyses this graph using for the most part, conventional graph theoretical measures.  In theory of Space Syntax, ‘Integration’ is a spatial measure accounting the relative depth or shallowness of any spatial system as seen from any particular point within it.
Integration is a function of the mean number of lines and changes of direction that need to be taken to go to all other spaces in the system. It is therefore about syntactic not metric accessibility and depth rather than distance is used for the farness of a space. The integration value of a line expresses the depth of that line mathematically from all other lines in the system [Hillier & Hanson 1984]. The integration value, rank ordered into seven integration bands, vary from red to blue to represent the degree of integration.
The set of most integrated streets are collectively known as global integration core. The nature of the integration core, its shape size, coverage and so on depends basically on the connectedness and geometry of the urban system and on its mode of growth. Space Syntax also proposes a fundamental relation between configuration of space in a city and the way that it functions. Source of Rennell’s map: Translation of THE ANTIQUITIES OF DACCA’ BY CHARLES D’OYLY. Map no. 3, [scale of 1:17,600]  The roads had no names but the mohallas had names at that time.
However, the roads are named after the establishment of the Dhaka Municipality in 1864; former one is Patuatoli-Islampur -Mughal toli Road and the later one seems to be the Nawabpur Road. [Source: Islam and Khan, 1964:10]  A detailed map of Dhaka Municipality [1912-15 at a scale of 1:5000] was prepared at this time by the Settlement Department of the then British Government. Another map of 1916 is also available, and was published by the same department at 1: 10560 scale. To maintain consistency among the different maps, the later one will be used here, as being representative of British Dhaka. 10] The areal coverage of the Plan of Greater Dhaka [consists the central city and other municipalities and immediate rural areas] was of 320 sq. miles. [Islam, 196: 32] The object of the Master Pan was to establish planning principles rather than to lay down a detailed, inflexible scheme. [Report on the Draft Master Plan for Dacca, 1979: 4]. In fact in the Master Plan the major land use pattern and the transport network was decided. Although not substantially updated, this plan remains the basis for development planning by DIT. [DMAIUDP , Final Report. 1981, Vol. 2. p. 7]