Living in the highly populated city of Dhaka with minimum open space, we are used to the fact that our residences are confined within four walls. Most of the apartment buildings in Dhaka rarely allow its residents, especially tenants, to use the rooftop. And we almost forgot what the meaning of a courtyard is.
Many houses in old Dhaka from the nineteenth century were built with spacious courts. The interior verandas were laid around a courtyard. The courtyard then used to witness many socio-cultural gatherings. Besides, a courtyard ensured proper air ventilation, heat reflection and a touch of green.
Panam, an ancient city in Sonargaon, had several houses built with charming courts and open terraces, beside prayer spaces, reminding us of the quality of our vernacular architecture.
Our architectural history is rich. But somehow, we are failing to bring the essence of history in our modern buildings. We lost the connection between our traditional and contemporary architecture.
City dwellers in Dhaka now live in the forest of concrete. We hardly have any open space for social meetups and children's playground facilities in our home. We lack a simple resting space under a tree after a hectic day or a space just to look around the sky.
Remembering the old small garden in his childhood house, architect Rafiq Azam designed a court in Azam Residence in Lalbagh. The court works as a transitional space between the concrete urban strip and the interior. He planted trees and used pergolas, which creates puzzling light and shadow. He wanted to bring back the intrinsic nature of the old house while renovating the house.
Aside from renovating old houses, architects can design new apartment buildings with courtyard and necessary design adjustments to use the rooftop.
Large apartment building's rooftop, which in most cases are not accessible to the tenants can be used as a relaxation space as well as for a social gathering among the residents of the buildings. Rooftop gardening will be fun when we hardly have any vacant space for growing plants.
Architect Ehsan Khan acknowledged the need of the urban dwellers and designed an apartment building named "Vantage Banshree," where he incorporated the traditional touch by creating a court with modern design aspects, ensuring the brilliant interplay of spaces. He created a courtyard which plays the role of a children's playground as well as social get-together space, which offers a great ambience in the modern-day concrete jungle.
According to Khan, "The concept was to create a community living space and to provide all private amenities so that inhabitants get better lifestyle." He said he wanted to create a new trend and typology in private sector housing in Bangladesh. Hence, he designed this as an example for the Dhaka-dwellers.
Mr. Mamun, a resident of 'Vantage Banasree' experiencing such amenities which are allocated in three floors, said, "We really enjoy this places as we find all the facilities like gymnasium, pool and community space in lovely design and the view of the Hatirhjeel from the rooftop is appealing."
Afsana Jeba is an architect