Platform of Hope (Ashar Macha)

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

With a population of 120,000, Korail is the largest slum in the fastest growing megacity, Dhaka. UNEP projects that Dhaka will grow to twenty-three million people and become the world’s second largest city by 2015. Open public space is rare in Korail, and children make do playing in the narrowest open space. Living with one of Korail’s families, Khondaker Hasibul Kabir, an architect, landscape architect and lecturer at BRAC University, collaborated with the local Pervez family to initiate a new public space, the Platform of Hope. Over a three-year period starting in 2008, Kabir and the Pervez family, with help from a local carpenter and bamboo worker, designed and built the 5.5 x 11 meter (18 x 36 ft) platform extending over Gulshan Lake. A bamboo bridge connects it to a lush community garden. Designed for children living in the settlement, it is a clean, new space in which they can play, sing, dance, interact, and read books from a small library. In the evening, families gather for relaxation and enjoy the view over the water.

The Platform of Hope stands in stark contrast to the constant threat of eviction with which the Korail residents live, without security of tenure, on land that is becoming more valuable in the densest city in the world. Yet local residents have the skills and willingness to change their unhealthy surroundings. With knowledge shared on the platform, nearby dwellings are slowly transforming, with better lighting and ventilation. The platform and garden have generated hope for a cleaner and greener place.

Designers: Khondaker Hasibul Kabir, with Fourkan Pervez, Nasima Pervez, Faria Farzana Tithi, and Tuhofa Tasmi Tisha. Construction: Odut Ahmed, Saiful Islam. Plant/seed collection: Abdun Nime. Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2008–11. Bamboo, nuts, bolts, nails

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