Rethinking Shakhari Bazar: A Unique Urban Settlement of Old Dhaka, Bangladesh
Shakhari Bazar is a three-hundred-year-old significant human settlement in the city of Dhaka, which as established during the Mughal period and later part of the British period. The Shakhari community, originating as a settlement of craftsmen who make Shakha from conch shells, has been living and carrygin out their craftsmanship in this are from generations. About ten thousand people are living in about 4.6 acres of land area within one hundred and fifty-seven houses along both sides of a six-hundred-foot narrow alley. Each of the buildings has a unique architectural style derived from Mughal and British era. However, many unplanned modifications have been made over the period to many of these buildings, and many others have been demolished because of unlivable conditions. The Bangladeshi government has declared Shakhari Bazar as "Heritage Site" which prohibits the building owners to repari, rebuild or modify any parts of the buildigns, without permission from the governmetn, but the authority has failed to provide enough resources for restoration and repairs. With a unique architectural style, built form, craft, and rich history, Shakhari Bazar has a scope to become an International Heritage Site and deserve attention for conservation. A community-based development plan and framework should be carried out as part of conserving this area as well as to promote a healthy living condition. This research intends to find out the reasons behind the deterioration of the historic urban fabric of Shakhari Bazar, to analyze different techniques of conservation to find the optimal process that allows for community participation and cultural, as well as physical conservation.