Selected Entries 2017

From Autocracy to Autonomy: A Parametric Approach to Slum Upgradation of Dhaka

Saad Andalib
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology | Dhaka


According to urban dictionary, slum is a noun which means “a squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people.” and “a house or building unfit for human habitation”

Slum is one of the major social problems (seemingly) in urban life in Bangladesh. As a developing and over populated country thousands of people live here under the poverty level. Bangladesh is a country of 164 million people where 3.5 million people live in 4000 slums. The slum problems are the fruit of unplanned urbanization and industrialization.

Design Approach

The usual solution to this specific problem results in eviction or rehabilitation. But in reality, none of these work, as slums grow in the places which holds the job opportunities or economic benefactor. Thus, when evicted without rehabilitation, the dwellers falls in the situations that contradicts the very reason of their city-life; and even after the rehabilitation, the given units falls under economic poaching by the economic classes higher than the slum dwellers.


Thus, this thesis aims to slum up gradation, not rehabilitation, with the least change or demolition in current establishments, and with a parametric approach towards the expansion and phasing of the expansion. Also, some policies are discussed so that the economic poaching can be averted even after the upgradation of living environment and lifestyle.


In a nutshell, the thesis can be divided into three major parts:

1.The segregation of basic service functions into collective service points in different scales to avert economic poaching.

2.The new proposed road networks within the slums with the most catchment area and least demolition in minds.

3.Vertical expansion without hampering the current intricate social structures within slums.

In consideration of all these, the most importance put on the factor of “good”, and in order to find what was good, some parameters were set (like connectivity, wind ventilation, maximized use of service points and optimum usage of resources, women empowerment etc); and their mathematical values were expressed as variables in design algorithm , so that they can work with different situation just by changing values, becoming an adaptive design.


The thesis focuses on the Maniknagar Slum, also known as Dhalpur City Palli, which currently faces the urban aggression, and threat to rehabilitation in thirteen 10 storied buildings in Dhalpur, Sutrapur and Dayaganj with 1128 units within them.


The example site to sample the parametric approach to slum up gradation is selected in Maiknagar, a semi government owned (DCC) settlement for Dhaka South City Corporation cleaners. The reasons behind choosing this site are

  • It represents an image of average slum of Dhaka city.
  • The slum is currently undergoing an urban aggression and change of phase, thus it gives an opportunity to deal with different issues of changes
  • As a semi government slum, the site has plans for rehabilitation of its owners in very near future, thus giving a chance to analyse comparatively with previous case studies with its future projection.

As any other slum, this site, too has an organic growth pattern of its own, which is derived from the site surrounding and also form the urban setting. The variety of the units show that how much influence can the surrounding have on a site, and how that leads to income generation in different scales.  It also paints a picture of how much actually the government cares about the inhabitants of a slum, and how that “care” has dealt with in different time periods.

The most common characteristics that could be derived from site analysis are:

  • Access of vehicles inside the slum is null.
  • All the major pedestrian roads holds a minimal scale of commercial activities.
  • The links to main roads and the slum itself has transformed into small to large scale bazaars.
  • The Dhaka City Corporation Motor vehicle department has played a significant role in transforming the zonal division of the site, as a portion of the site has completely transformed into recycling facilities from residential zone.



After experiencing the insight of lives of slum dwellers, it can be said that slums should not be a permanent solution, but a transient one, providing the living standards for the ones with least resources, enabling them to hope and dream.