04 Jul 2017
An Afghan fort, turned into a Mughal Stronghold and then a treasury; with the passage of time the site became the Dhaka Central jail at the heart of old Dhaka. In the course of history, the morphology of this specific area has been significant. But when the functionality of this site is evolving and changing, it was, it is and it will be the heart of the oldest city part of Dhaka. Despite the rapid urbanization, the essence of the place survived but the jail remained as a sealed part within it. The change has now begun and it has been for the betterment of the area.. The Dhaka central jail has now been relocated to Keraniganj. When relocated, the jail left behind a large space with lots of potentials. The place will come in hand with endless possibilities, and with that come endless complexities. Any misconduct with the changed functionality of the place will severely damage the essence Old Dhaka. On the other hand which is the brighter side of it, with proper and sensitive urban design solutions the place can become integrated with the existing texture of the area and serve Old Dhaka in numerous possible ways.
At present, the jail sits in the middle in the Old Dhaka covering an area of 23.64 acres within the perimeter of the central jail. In contrast with the surrounding areas, the site has rich vegetation and a large amount of open space with water bodies. But the potential of the site remains hidden to the general people. Besides that, the site houses some colonial buildings with some strong evidences of socio-political history of Bangladesh. And also after an extensive archeological survey and excavation, some remains of the old Afghan fort has been found as rich historical evidences. The rich landscape and heritage value of the site must be acknowledged, preserved and accessed by general people. Also the site will come in hand with endless possibilities of solving relevant urban issues of Dhaka city and providing many desired civic facilities for the people of old Dhaka.
Upon the completion of the project the old Dhaka can be relieved of some major urban problems. The redevelopment place can become important socio-culturally, infrastructural and historically. It can contribute greatly in national and international context by upholding our heritage and history to the global community and create a strong and positive image of our beloved Dhaka city to the World.
Somewhere in between the broad-brush of urban planning the specifics of architectural intervention, this project will contribute to create a responsive environment for Old Dhaka.
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