Sunday, December 23, 2007

Buoyant Agritecture

Experts believe that weather patterns such as heavy monsoon rains and droughts will only increase with global warming. ‘Though greater Dhaka experiences flood[s] almost in every year, flood management policies are mostly based on structural options including flood walls, dykes, embankments, etc.’ {WRMJ} Bangladesh experiences intermittent water shortages because of falling water tables in the northern and central parts of the country. Bangladesh only has about 7.5% of its land covered by water during non flood times. The elevation of the city of Dhaka lies between 2-13 meters above sea level; flood prone areas have 2-4 meters of flooding that extends to the edge of the city. “The area of expansion of Dhaka has been governed largely by the physical configuration of the landscape in and around the city, particularly the river system and the height of land in relation to the flood level.” {Islam 1996, pg. 62.63} Most of the western side of the city has been urbanized, generally lying at elevations of 6-8 meters above sea level. Due to the higher stability of infrastructure in the western section of Dhaka, we have chosen two neighborhoods as test sites: Pallabi and Kamrangirchar. Currently the country has 55.39% of arable land with only 3.08% available for permanent crops. By localizing the effects and attributes of seasonal flooding in a densely populated, metropolitan city, we are proposing an architectural intervention that will be implemented into the environment to mediate the outcome of seasonal flooding. Dhaka, Bangladesh is an excellent area to test our thesis due to its high population and growth rate which is also prevalent throughout Asia.

In order to combat these flood and drought conditions that affect a majority of the country’s population, we are proposing a system of floating terraced farms that will, with the help of various governmental organizations, have the ability to facilitate in the alleviation of seasonal flooding. It will do so by means of water absorption through structure, filtration/water purification through organic plant life and an increase in the production of sustainable crops, rice in particular. The system will be incorporated into the various already existing programs located along the river banks to allow for a relatively seamless transition. All of this would perform keeping in mind Bangladesh’s ever apparent need for fresh water, sustainable agriculture practices and agricultural exports to increase the nations GDP.

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