Rethinking urban voids: in search of spaces for public in the dense urban context of Dhaka, Bangladesh
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Looking at any growing city and its urban voids, a few uncomfortable questions inevitably arise: Where is the space for the urban people? Where is the space to breathe? Where is my/our space in the city? The preoccupation with eminent urban and political issues has fueled these questions, but the responses to these seemingly trivial issues are sometimes clearly portrayed by a superficial picture. Relevant issues are only rarely addressed or responded to on a substantial structural level and the resolutions appear to have little space-defining effect. For the urban contexts in the developed countries, the vicious circle of crippling self-preferentiality is rising every day. Soon we will need to be aware that any context exists within a global context irrespective of its congestion and density. The developed and planned cities are also going to face the similar problems the developing ones have. To learn about the architectural handling of substantial issues and to break away from the comfortable fluffiness of current practice is the aim of the paper. While analyzing the urban situation, liminality of space becomes an important issue here. The urban voids refer to the spaces in between built forms and these 'liminal spaces' play a great role to accommodate urban people and such urban voids are studied and incorporated to the design solution. The paper will bring light to the scarcity of usable and useful urban voids in growing cities, and the diversity in architectural and urban plans for urban voids. For this analysis and design task, some cities like Vienna, Detroit, Philadelphia are analyzed. Later, Dhaka-a growing city-is taken as a sample and the site to be worked upon.