'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
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.
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...