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UNLIMITED DREAMS IN LIMITED SPACE Feasibility study for establishing a community learning centre at Mohammadpur Geneva Camp in Dhaka

Author Nazmus Saquib Chowdhury

Photograph of the Mohammadpur Geneva Camp in Dhaka

Research conducted by Paraa, with funding support from Gandhi Foundation

Table of Content Chapter 1 - Introduction Background of the study Historical background Objectives Methodology Chapter 2 - Existing physical condition Physical Characteristics Lighting and ventilation Study environment Multiple use of space Privacy Service spaces Outdoor spaces Personalization of space Travel zone Chapter 3 - Proposed site for the Learning Centre Location of the community spaces

In search for usable space Land issues Possible locations Analysis of the proposed site Chapter 4 - Other issues to address Water and sanitation system Waste management system Use of technology Plantation The management system of public spaces Entertainment, sports and cultural aspects Community members’ opinion about the learning centre Chapter 5 - Conclusion Study outcomes Design concept and strategies Management strategies Moving forward Acronyms and Abbreviations References

Background of the study Historical background of the community

CHAPTER 1 Background of the Mohammadpur Geneva Camp Objectives Methodology


Background of the study

‘Junayed, a fifteen year old boy and a student of class 9 dreams of becoming a chartered accountant one day. Living and studying in the dark and filthy 8.69m2 room with stained walls does inhibit such a dream. He knows that he will have to be well established in his life to take care of his aged parents and his only younger brother who suffers from serious head injuries. Ignoring the buzzing sounds coming from the camp street and the loud noise from the neighbour's television, he sits in the dark room, trying his best to study. He wishes to be in a place devoid of bad odours, loud noise and poor lighting, a place where he will be able to concentrate on his studies so his dream can come true.’ The purpose of this study is to assess the possibility of creating and establishing an environment for young people like Junayed, in which they can study in a private and personal space conducive to learning which is free from the distractions and degradations of the camp itself. The introductory chapters sketch the historical background of the community and then look at the aims of the research, together with the different methodologies used to gather the data. The intention was to carry out a feasibility study for a learning and resource centre and to design a space that better meets the needs of the community. A research framework was developed which investigated the existing conditions of the community and their brief history. The report then analyses the following areas and issues: physical characteristics, lighting and ventilation, study environment, multiple uses of space, privacy issues, service spaces, outdoor space, personalisation of space and their mobility. Chapter Three analyses the proposed site for the learning centre, looking at sensitive issues relating to land access, existing sites of communal activity, potential sites and the analysis of the proposed site. Chapter Four addresses other issues such as water, sanitation and waste management systems, the potential use of technology, plantation, the management of public spaces, entertainment, sports and cultural aspects. It ends with community members' feedback on the proposed learning centre. The concluding chapters set out the design and management strategies motivating the learning centre itself by drawing on the outcomes of the study. Finally, the possible mechanisms that are important for the long term running of the proposed centre are outlined so as to identify the key factors needed to move forward.

Historical background

This chapter presents a community since 1947, it does not intend to give a detailed historical narrative, rather, from their initial involvement in East Pakistan, to the repercussions created during the war of liberation in 1971, when Bangladesh was born, and the community became stateless. The chapter ends with the community gaining citizenship in Bangladesh in 2008 and an account of their subsequent concerns. When British India was divided into the independent nations of Pakistan and India, Pakistan itself was further divided into an eastern and a western territory. The majority of Muslims living in the eastern Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam migrated to East Pakistan because of its proximity. In the years following partition, about 500,000 people migrated to East Pakistan. It is believed that during Bangladesh's war of independence from West Pakistan in 1971, many members of this migrated community living in East Pakistan supported the Pakistani army because they benefited from the policies of the central Pakistani government. The horrors of the war, and the trauma it left behind, left deep scars in the Bengali imagination and, following the birth of Bangladesh in December of the same year, the entire "Urdu-speaking community" were branded Pakistani collaborators and socially ostracised. Thousands were arrested, executed, or forced to flee and many ended up in the temporary camps established around the country. Many people settled in temporary refugee camps constructed across the country by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)1. The majority of camps however, developed on an ad hoc basis in the desperate search for safety. Today, the "Urdu-speaking population" of Bangladesh is often assumed to be entirely camp-based. Victoria Redclift's research (2006-9) revealed around 90,000 "Urdu-speaking Biharis" have been able to establish themselves outside the camps. Some of these individuals avoided dispossession in 1971 through the wealth, status or connections they were able to claim at the time. Others moved into the camps but have since acquired the capital to leave. And almost 300,000 still live in the 116 "Urdu-speaking settlements" that remain today and the Geneva camp in Mohammadpur, Dhaka is the home for the largest Urduspeaking community with approximately 25,000 people. Over the three decades several rounds of negotiations took place between Bangladesh and Pakistan to help repatriate this community. One successful agreement between the countries was signed on August 28, 1973 in which it was agreed that Bengali prisoners of war held in Pakistan would be returned to Bangladesh, while the 'stranded Pakistanis' in Bangladesh would be repatriated to Pakistan. While this agreement had some measure of success, it did not enable all the stranded Pakistanis to be repatriated. 1. Hannah Sholder, Housing and Land Rights: The Camp-Dwelling Urdu-Speaking Community in Bangladesh,

In fact, when the deal came to a close, approximately 140,000 members of this community were still left behind in several camps. With nowhere else to go, and still hoping for repatriation, they remained in the camps even after the ICRC withdrew its support in December, 1973. Surur Hoda, a trade unionist who founded the Gandhi Foundation in 1983, had been involved in organizing a powerful delegation (headed by British Labour Party politician Lord David Ennals and Ben Whitaker) which encouraged many refugees to return to Pakistan in an agreement of 1974. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) facilitated the return of some 108,750 Bihari refugees by June 1974 until funds ran out2. The community's hopes for repatriation were largely shattered on January 10, 1993, when another agreement signed between Bangladesh and Pakistan was broken after a mere 235 people were sent back to Pakistan. While this failed deal signalled an end to the “Pakistan Dream” for the older generation, it signalled the beginning of a new struggle for the young generation, who were born and grew up in the camps. In Redclift's study of the socio-spatial conditions of the community, she writes "Since 1972, the "Bihari" camps in Bangladesh have certainly functioned as "states of exception" in "formal" juridical terms. While those "Urdu-speakers" who retained their houses also retained their civil status, those living inside the camps were disenfranchised". 'I accepted citizenship just after Liberation…because I was living outside the camp. There were others like me outside the camps, we all got citizenship. Those in the camps couldn't, they had nothing.' (Ali Reza, "outsider", 44, Dhaka)3. In 2001, a group of ten youths from Geneva Camp's Association for the Young Generation of UrduSpeaking Community (AYGUSC), who were frustrated by their situation, brought a petition before the High Court demanding that their birth-right to be voters of Bangladesh be recognized. The High Court responded to their petition by granting voting rights to the petitioners. While this ruling only applied to these ten youths, a similar petition was submitted in May, 2007 by members of the Urdu-Speaking People's Youth Rehabilitation Movement (USPYRM) on behalf of all members of the young generation. The High Court responded to their petition on May 18, 2008 by restoring the voting rights of all members of the young generation of Urdu speakers living in the camps, as per their constitutional birth-rights as citizens of Bangladesh. 2. For further information please see: 3. Victoria Redclift: Abjects or agents? Camps, contests and the creation of 'political space', Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) London, UK

This ruling and the subsequent voter registration and distribution of identity cards have secured one of the most fundamental rights for this community as citizens of Bangladesh. Many who grew up in the camps remain socially isolated, under-educated, and are employed mainly in the informal4 sector still living in substandard conditions without much hope for the future. Recently, there has been progress towards engaging more young people in the development of the community, with Al-Falah's continuing support and sponsorship of promising students who wish to further their education. As a result, the young generation of the community are beginning to equip themselves with tools to improve their situation. It is significant that Reaching Out of School Children (ROSC) – a six-year long project to educate 5 hundred thousand deprived children by 2015 undertaken by the government of Bangladesh – does not cover the Urdu-speaking children living in the camps. Most camps have in fact almost no educational facilities. And even if there are schools, parents cannot afford to send their children to the school due to family poverty. Even if Bihari families want to send their children to school outside the camps, they are often unable to enrol because of requirements such as the nationality of the children, their home address or their parents' occupation. Though some manage to be registered for school, they face difficulties in continuing to hide the facts of their background. In some cases, a student will even be expelled when the school authorities become aware that the student comes from the camp. . The few who remain and study outside of the community school face a constant struggle to hide their Bihari identity.

4. Informal sector refers to those kind of job which are not officially recognised by the government. Income from those sectors are not taxable.

Background of the Mohammadpur Geneva Camp

The Geneva camp was established in 1972 in several plots of vacant land in Mohammadpur, Dhaka and is spread over 26,100m2 area of land. It has nine residential sectors labelled A to I, as well as a busy bazaar (market) at the interior side of blocks A and B. There are two mosques and a number of small shrines called Imam Bara, as well as two schools and a partially functioning medical clinic. Although there are no exact figures of the total population, it has been estimated by camp officials to be around 25,000 people consisting of roughly 5,000 families with an average house size of 120 square feet (11m2). The camp dwellers engage in a wide range of occupations such as hair dressing, automobile repairs, dress designers, caterers, butchers, skilled embroiderers and others . With a growing population of young people, the number of schools is clearly inadequate. . Recently, NGOs such as Social and Economic Enhancement Program (SEEP) have provided free education for some students until class three in primary school. Al Falah also runs an education programme, where children are given sponsorship for further education: in return graduates teach up to class three, primary level students. Although this exchange is still on a very small scale, it is quite effective. In addition, the existence of scholarship schemes offered by other NGOs in the camp means that more children now have access to study up to undergraduate level. Although the exact number of children going to school from or within the camp is not documented, it has been estimated to be around one thousand, taking into account the capacity of the camp schools and the number of scholarships given to students by various organisations.


The main objectives of this study are: a) to investigate the present situation in the camp for the young people studying at home b) to develop and operate a learning and resource centre for psycho-social and cultural development of children, adults and the elderly living in the Geneva camp and beyond c) to bridge the gap between camp dwellers and mainstream Bangladeshis through exchanging knowledge and resources. Other objectives are as follows: · To find discover what design solutions are needed to create a positive environment conducive to studying. · To learn what resources will benefit other members of the community/user; as well as the resources (human and material) required to manage the centre as a pilot project. · To understand what time the library/ learning space would need to operate, and how time will be divided between reading, social and cultural activities; · To understand who will take the responsibility of running the the learning space; and the training and development of this team .. · To find out what resources are required to operate the learning and resource centre how it will be managed


· To propose a strategy for implementation, construction and management, as well as scope for expanding the project to other camps in the future.


Wind-screen survey and initial workshops In order to understand better the issues that the camp-dwellers faced, Paraa, led by Nazmus Saquib Choudhury with Mohammad Hasan of Al-Falah, conducted several daylong workshops with the students of various ages living in different parts of the camp. The brain-storming sessions and relevant presentations helped to identify their existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They also shared their thoughts about the research and how they thought it could be executed, and helped develop the topics for discussion during the formal and informal interviews with various members of the community. Primary data collection This was carried out in two different formats. One was through the design investigation process and another was through random interviews. Design Investigation Seven students from the architecture department of Asia Pacific University in Dhaka, along with architect Majeda Khatun (Tumpa) were appointed to carry out the design investigations in the camp. The purpose of using this method was to survey existing conditions, using architectural drawings and spatial analysis. The method engages with the space being measured, as well as the inhabitants, to further understand their everyday practice. For this study, eight students were chosen from the camp, under various parameters, and were interviewed and their house surveyed. The aim was to select one boy and one girl in different sets of the education level. The set has been determined as level 1 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 12 and undergraduate level. Also taken into consideration was the area each student lived in, this was important as it highlighted different conditions in various parts of the camp. In order to observe any differences in lifestyle, we hd boys and girls in each set. The main aim of the study was to observe the students' use of various indoor and outdoor spaces at different times of the day and how their study had been affected by their environment.

Formal & informal interviews The formal interviews have been carried out by the students living in the camp. The purpose of recruiting them was to provide them with first-hand experience of working as research assistants. They have been trained to conduct interviews before being allowed to work in the field. A sample test has been done to verify the quality of interview we are expecting from the research assistants. The aim of these interviews was to discover the issues that are raised by the workshop participants and to garner the participants' opinion about the proposed learning centre. It is important to note that we have been able to interview about three hundred participants in random selection. Due to various constraints we have not been able to interview enough people to analyse the numerical data on the topics we considered. We concluded however, that the sample size was not adequate to publish quantitative data analysis. Therefore the report addresses the issues faced by the community but it does not address the depth of the problems. Types of Data Qualitative data collected was related to living condition such as living space, toilet, bathroom, water and sanitation, drainage, garbage system and plantation, use of technology like mobile phones, television, fans etc. Alongside this, quantitative data, such as number of members in a family, number of female headed families, were also collected. Data Collection Instrument A preliminary guideline was prepared, pre-tested, refined and with the findings, a final guideline was developed for primary qualitative data collection. Sampling Random sampling procedure was followed during data collection. A total number of 300 households were randomly selected for data collection. Data has been collected through 290 individual interviews, 10 informal discussions and observations. Out of the 290 respondents interviewed there were 83 girls, 28 boys, 129 women and 50 men. The respondents aged eighteen and above have been counted as men and women. The camp is divided into 9 blocks alphabetically, naming from block A to block I. Geographical distribution of respondents were 25 respondents from block A, 32 from block B, 45 from C. 35 from D. 39 from E. 25 from F, 43 from G, 31 from H and 15 from I block.

Some restrictions, assumptions used and problems encountered During the interview sessions, many people refused to answer the question regarding how much they spent on their mobile phones and other electronic devices The interviewers were wondering what can be the possible relationship with the learning centre and the use of their mobile phone.. It was explained to the interviewers that we want to have some IT facilities like internet cafĂŠ, computer training and others in the proposed learning centre and we want to know how popular the use of latest technology is among the youth of the camp and how much they currently spend on such technology Secondary data collection - desk-based research A desk-based study led us to conclude that Mohammadpur Geneva Camp is relatively unknown to scholars andacademics. Little empirical research has been conducted and most research has been focused on public health, migration, employment and education. Surprisingly, there was no data available on how many children attend school or the actual number of people dwelling in the camp. However, good critical articles and research have been conducted by some scholars on the overall community. Other information was collected from books, journals, periodicals,articles,, research reports, newspaper clippings and other sources. Sources of Data Both secondary and primary data were collected and analysedduring the feasibility study. . Primary data/information was collected from the people living in the camp area. Time-frame Primary data was collected during December 2012. However, it took about 3 months to complete the whole assignment.

Physical Characteristics Lighting and ventilation Study environment Multiple use of space

CHAPTER 2 Privacy Service spaces Outdoor spaces Personalization of space Travel zone

Analysis Of Findings

Analysis Of Findings: Introduction

The analysis begins by providing a narrative of the eight students selected for study and then analyses their dwellings and surrounding area. The purpose of studying the existing conditions is to help formulate design strategies that can work best for the users of the learning centre. There are several case studies in developing countries around the world where formal design applications have failed. For example, the building and its surroundings have not been well utilised by the end users as intended by the designers. Adaptation by the users to a newly designed building is very important, especially in an organic built environment such as a slum or squatter settlement. Otherwise, the building can fail to serve its intended purpose to be a positive entity of transformative spatial and social change. The chapter articulates the importance of understanding how the selected students across various ages and gender struggle to study for a better future and the type of environment they need in order to study. Extensive study has therefore been carried out to understand various aspects of the built environment in Geneva camp. Initially, it was by surveying and drawing the students' dwellings It was important to analyse the lighting and ventilation of the selected buildings; the environment in which the selected students study; the way the internal spaces are used throughout the day; privacy issues; the service spaces; the use of outdoor space; the personalization of spaces; the social mobility of the students and their movements within their locality.

Physical Characteristics

Physical mapping of the character's home was used to understand the space and the environment in which they live. This helps analyse the ways the students make maximum use of the place they inhabit. In addition, we have been able to study the other family members who are also using the space in relation to their daily life and in turn, how that affects the students' ability to study at home. People are continuously seeking opportunities to maximise the use of the limited areas that they live in. We have keenly observed and documented the three dimensional maximum use of space, whether it's the nine-member family of Al-Amin, who are living in a two storied house of 36.5m² or the five-member family of Danish, who are living in a 6.97m² one storied house. The study emphasises the need to understand the quality of the environment in which the students study.

The characters


Hut # 614, Block - I, Geneva camp Junayed Shoeb


Hut # 394, Block - E, Geneva camp Ruksar Hut # 359, Block - E, Geneva camp Hut # 319, Block - D, Geneva camp Shirin & Ruma Hut # 394, Block - E, Geneva camp Hut # 390, Block - F, Geneva camp Al Amin Hut # 614, Block - I, Geneva camp

He is an undergrad student Sometimes he can’t go to class due to work. He runs a shop. He is determined to graduate.

At present she works as a private tutor.

She works as an embroidery worker

She also works in the weekend

In future he doesn’t want to stay in the camp.

She studies in class 9

She studies English literature

He lives in a single room house.

Her room is shared with nine family members

She shares her room with five other family members


She likes Indian film songs.



She used to work in a beauty parlour

He has no time for himself.

Both of her parents died. She lives with her aunt.

He is ambitious. He likes to play everywhere in and around home and outside the camp.

She is shy.

Her household has own toilet facilities

Al Amin


She doesn’t like to hang around in the camp.

He likes to play all day long.

He wants to be a chartered accountant.


She studies in class five.

He want to take care of his younger brother He supports Irish cricket team.

They use common toilets in the camp. He studies in class six. They have own toilet facilities at home.

She wants to complete her bachelor degree but for that she needs financial support.

She is pretty. She studies in class eight. She don't know the city well. Her grandparents lives at another part of the city. She doesn’t know the way to go there.

He loves to play street games.



He goes to mosque on Fridays.

She has two little brothers.

She helps her father in embroidery works.

Ruksar’s house Ruksar Rahman, a beautiful 15 years old girl, has a very supportive family. Ruksar’s father Jabed Rahman is a embroidery worker. Ruksar’s mother Roksana Begam is a home maker. Ruksar has two other younger brothers, Hredoy and Riad. There age is 12 years and 3 years respectively.

23 ft2 or 2.14 m2 area shared by five people

All of the family members help in embroidery work. Ruksar likes to draw, mostly patterns. She like to share these with her best friend. She studied from class 1- 7 at ‘Al-hajj Mohammad Chinnu Mia School’, located at Krishi Market Mohammadpur. At present she is studying at Lalmatia Girl’s School. ‘I find hard to study science ’ as she mentioned, she is thinking to study business studies in future for further studies. Her family don't go out of the camp much often so she doesn’t know well about the city. She likes to hang out with her friends who live in the neighbourhood. They use common toilet facility in the Camp.

entry cooking area

embroidery work station

sleeping area


rack sewing machine

plan of Ruksar’s home 5"



The girl who works with Ruksar’s father as an assistant

Ruksar’s house (a)

view of Ruksar’s house (b)

Hridoy and Riyad are Ruksar’s brothers

Shirin’s house

sleeping area


ground floor plan of Shirin’s home

Shirin Akhter, a 19 years old girl, is one of the very few members of Urdu speaking community who is completing her bachelor degree in English Literature at Mohammadpur Kendrio Central University. Her father, Kamal Hossain works as a butcher and her mother, Shabina Begum is a home maker. She has two brothers and three sisters. Her eldest brother, Asif Hossain, works at Sharif Melamine Factory. Her second brother works as a salesman. She has two younger sisters, Shila is a S.S.C. candidate (equivalent to O level) and the youngest Nila is a student of class 5. Shirin has a part time job; she works at World Vision Organization’s local office on Humayan Road, Dhaka. To cover her expenses and helping her family financially she tutors school students.

reading table

Shirin is an early riser. She teaches in the morning. After that she goes to university, where her class ends at 1 pm. Later she goes to the job. She works till 5 in the evening and then again goes back to teach school children. She returns home at around 8pm. She can rests only for a while .She has to prepare for her own studies before other members of the family come back home. The small room becomes crowded and noisy. It is hard for her to study at that time stair sleeping area under stair case

ground floor plan of Shirin’s home 5"



At weekends, she likes to relax and helps her mother doing daily chores. She also loves playing carom board and watching television. She often goes to teach students if she misses any in the weekdays.

Axonometric view of Shirin’s house

view of Shirin’s house

Tumpa’s house Tumpa Farzana is a 12 year old girl. Tumpa lost both of her parents at a very young age. She lives with her grandmother and her uncle.Tumpa has an elder sister who is married and a younger brother studying in a madrasah (Muslim religious school). Tumpa wants to be a doctor; therefore she is concentrating on her academic education. The room where she sleeps and studies is around 8’x10’ shared by her grandmother and her aunt. Tumpa is more family oriented because she spends most of her time at home. She has three good friends at school, who come to visit her at home. She also spends her time with neighbours; they converse in the narrow street running between the houses; as they don’t have any sitting area in their house. When Tumpa comes back from her school she helps her grandmother and her aunt with the chores; such as cleaning, cooking, washing etc. She likes to go shopping with her family during festivals and marriage ceremonies. Tumpa is living a very simple life hoping to achieve her goals. multi purpose area

toilet bed cooking area

shower area storeage area

reading area

ground floor plan of Tumpa’s home 20"



room “b”

room “a”

view of room “b”

view of room “a” Tumpa’s house

Al Amin’s house

Al Amin Chowdhury is an eight years old boy who studies in class three in Hazi Shomola Khatun Prathomik Biddaloy school. His father Sohel Chowdhury runs an embroidery workshop down stair of their house and he too is an embroidery worker. Al Amin has three younger brothers and a sister. Al Amin has a very busy routine. Like any other room for Al Amin’s family eight years old, his routine is consumed with games and studies. In his neighbourhood he has his playmates including his cousins. ‘They make a lot of noise while I study,’ he says. His uncle teaches him and his little sister Alifa. Al Amin likes to play around outside the camp. He often goes to the nearby play field to play with other children which is not common in the camp. He likes to go to the Friday prayer but he is not a regular one, as he mentioned. He wants to be an engineer.

Al Amin’s sleeping area

shared common services


first floor plan of Al Amin’s home 20"



room for Al Amin’s uncle’s family

“put off your shoe before you enter”

room for embroidery works

ground floor plan of Al Amin’s home 20"



Front view of Al Amin’s house

Room at Al Amin’s house

Work station at ground floor

Junayed’s house

sleeping are first floor plan of Junayed’s home 5"


cooking area space for multiple use


Junayed is a fifteen years old boy, who is studying in class 9. Junayed’s father teaches students in their house. This single space house can accommodate 8-10 students. Sometimes Junayed helps his father in teaching. Junayed’s younger brother Rubayed had an accident few years back where he suffered head injury and because of that Junayed’s family fears for permanent break in his study in future. So Junayed is the only hope for his parents. Junayed’s family do not want Junayed to hang out with the boys of the camp because of the drug problem. So, most of Junayed’s spare time is spent at home. Their brick-walled house is ventilated by roof opening. Because of the corrugated S.I. sheet roofing, the temperature rises. And in rainy days there is no proper ventilation because the only opening on the roof has to be closed.

View of Junayed’s home

Shoeb’s house

toilet wardrobe bed sewing machine


ground floor plan of Shoeb’s home 5" 10"


Mohammad Iqbal Siddique Shoeb lives in a room with an attached toilet. Shoeb is thirteen years old and studies in class six at OBAT High School, which is situated inside the camp. Shoeb’s father, Md. Murtuza is a shop keeper, mother is a home maker. He has a younger brother, Julfikar. Shobe’s grand father and uncle also live with them. Shoeb as a person is very calm and quiet. He likes to study. He hardly goes out from camp area. In his spare time he hangs out with his friends inside the camp.

view of Shoeb’s house

photograph from this point

Danish’s house Danish is one of very few among Geneva camp resident who is on the way of completing his graduation. He is a second year student of Mohammadpur Central College and University. He runs an electrical shop in the camp. It is a full time job for which he often misses his class. Danish lives with his parents and other two brothers. The ‘house’ with an area of 7.43m2 accommodates five people. Most of the space of the room is occupied by a bed which is shared by Danish’s father and two other brothers. The space is ventilated by high window and roof opening like many other houses. The roof is made of C.G.I. sheet panels. Walls are plastered and the floor is neat cement finished. After graduation Danish wants to apply for government job. He does not want to stay in camp in future. He wants to be in some place which is quite and peaceful.

bed used for sleeping, dining and studying

high window

cooking area

ground floor plan of Danish;s home 5" 10"


overhead storage area

view of Danish’s room

photograph from this point

Ruma’s house

bed for sleeping, eating and embroidery works

entrance kitchen

ground floor plan of Danish;s home 5" 10"


Ruma Shekh, a 15 years old girl, is a student of Shahjalal Memorial School/college situated in Ajiz Mahalla. She studies in class 9. Her father, Md. Shopon, is a salesman who works at a shop in Geneva camp and her mother is a housewife. Ruma’s mother is suffering from heart disease. She is bedridden for the last two years. Ruma’s two younger sisters, Shuchona and Shopna, both is dropped from school. Ruma has an elder brother who is an embroiderer. He sometimes comes home for lunch and dinner. He prefers to stay at his work place. Both of her sisters study in class 1 at Ideal Primary School. Jeasmin, the youngest one, has just started school. She goes to Local junior High School. Ruma is an early riser and she always prepares breakfast for her family. She then helps her mother doing daily chores or watches television till she gets ready for school. At 12 she go to school and at 5 in the evening she comes back. She takes lunch at around 6pm and then she goes out for private lessons. She comes back at around 9pm. She helps her mother after coming back. Ruma likes to play board games and cell phone games. At weekend she wakes up early to help her mother rest of the day. In her spare time she also likes to watch television. Seemingly that’s the only recreation she has got. She specially likes to watch musical videos from Indian movies.

Due to space constrain Ruma’s grandmother, father and one of her younger sister sleeps under the lifted bed. The bed is placed one metre above the floor.

view of the kitchen

view from the entrance

Lighting condition This section analyses the lighting and ventilation issues of the students' houses. and how it impacts on their ability to study – as well as living in a highly dense environment the students have to deal with the serious issues of lack of lighting and improper ventilation which exacerbates the constraints of space. In most of the homes studied, the findings show that the houses often have little or no window for sunlight. The houses have a shared wall, which obstructs the option of having any openings. Sometimes the entry door is oriented towards dark and narrow alley ways, thus further restricting sunlight and daylight, as well as being the only source of air inlet. It is quite interesting to observe the ways the dwellers have tried to resolve the ventilation issues. The researchers understood that most of the single storey houses had an iron-sheet roofing system which also had a small pivoted window on the roof. This works for sunlight and air ventilation as seen in Junayed's house, first floor of Shirin, Ruma and Tumpa's house. In Tumpa's house the window has been placed inside the toilet. In other houses where there is no option for such windows, the dwellers tried to use high windows as seen in Ruksar and Shoeb's house. AlAmin's is the only home amongst the selected studentswhich has a proper ventilation system. This was only possible because the home is placed between two streets on both sides. To conclude, the investigations reveal that an environment conducive to study is absent in the homes of the selected students.

Study envionment The analysis of the physical characteristics of the dwellings and lighting and ventilation, shows the lack of a positively conducive study environment in the camp from a spatial perspective. In most cases, the young person has to study in a room where other members are watching television-which is often very loud with younger siblings playing and screaming around everywhere. As well as the lack of light and adequate ventilation ,very often there is not a study table or desk to work from. This further impedes the ability to study. This may not be an issue for people living in large spaces but it becomes a major concern in the smaller dwellings. Ruma, who lives in a 7.4m² room with six members of her family, finds it difficult to study. All of her siblings are too young to go to school, so they play around the house and make noise, even whilst she is trying to study. This is because there is nowhere else her parents can take them to, this means Ruma does not have the space and time she needs to study properly. This is a similar scenario for Al Amin as well, who lives in an extended family of nine people, sharing a space of 36.5m². He is being supported by his uncle who encourages him to study, but the younger cousins scream and play all around the house while he tries to do so. Watching television is a common practice within camp families.. The male head of the household often comes home in the evening and wants to relax and unwind by watching television, ignoring the effect that this has on the children's ability to study. In general, the researchers learnt that people expect their children to study outside of the home, usually at a private tutor's place but there are many families who cannot afford this extra expense. Amongst all the students studied, Tumpa is the only one who has an adequate place to study at home. She has a separate room with adequate lights and the television is in another room where other family members spend most of their evening, this is a luxury for many camp dwellers. In contrast to this, Danish, living in 6.97m² area of room along with four other members finds it very difficult to study. However, in all of these constraints he still manages to go to university and expects to complete his degree in the next two years. Junayed's dad is a teacher and there was an assumption that there would be no difficulty for him to study at home. However, we found that in the evening, students who come are taught a different subject by his dad, so he finds it difficult to study with them. From this study we may conclude that when there is a limited area for living it has an adverse impact on the students who want to study at home after school. In order to study in a better learning environment there is a need for an adequate space for individuals and groups to study together, this requires a separate space, outside of the dwellings and away from the many distractions that exist in the dwellings.

Multiple use of space It's clear that a small room for living is a problem but we have been able to observe multiple use of the same place. This adaptation and innovation often takes place mostly on the bed or on the floor in the centre of the room. It is not common within the camp to have proper tables and chairs for studying. The reason for this is mostly due to the lack of space.Junayed, like most others in the camp, studies mostly on the bed and the floor in the middle of his dwelling is used for the students whom his father tutors. They generally sit on the floor for dining except during winter, when they also use the bed to dine on. The same phenomena is at Ruksar's place but in addition, Ruksar's dad uses the floor to work from, weaving cloth throughout the day and as necessary. Danish hosts group study sessions on the bed, even though he has the smallest space in this study. Other members of the family either go to their shop in the market or to a neighbour's house. Ruma's bed occupies most of the space in the room, so they have to do all of their activities on the bed except the cooking. Shoeb's bed is bigger than the others and we have observed someone eating whilst another person sleeps. Most of the family uses the bed to watch television and prefer their guests to also sit with them on the bed. Tumpa prefers to sit on the floor when she studies with her friends and the same space is used for guests to sit and dine. The three dimensional use of the room is also quite common, with dwellers using the height of the room to have wall-mounted racks and hangers on which to store their goods and belongings. Junayed's family uses the timber wall beam that runs through the middle of the roof to keep their clothes. Ruma has placed a double bunk-bed to accommodate her grandparents who sleep on the bottom bunk. Shirin uses the space under the stairs for storing cooking utensils and luggage.

Privacy This section explores the issues regarding privacy in the camp and provides some common findings. When designing emergency shelters, the issue of privacy for each family is not a prime concern for any architect, planner or designer. The Geneva camp had been designed as an emergency shelter, acting as a stop-gap while the repatriation process was taking place. However, when the temporary solution had become a permanent place for the camp dwellers, the designed camps had turned into a slum. Due to the increase in population, the space for living has shrunk and privacy has been compromised. In a house, grown-up children are living and sleeping in the same room as their parents and grand-parents and often, even a new bride has to live amongst them. Such a case was observed at Shirin's house, with the researchers getting an opportunity to meet her brother's wife a day after his marriage. In the camp, there is little interaction between the boys and girls, even though there are many who go to mixed schools outside of the camp. The public spaces in the camp are often dominated by the boys. It has been observed that boys generally meet at the market places and other corners of roads with their friends, while the girls go to meet friends in their house. Although the sense of privacy does exist amongst the camp dwellers, it has been sacrificed due to the present slum conditions. A good example of such sacrifice of privacy is the common bathing area and toilets that have been placed at regular intervals around the camp, most of which have been installed by NGOs but are not well maintained by the community.. The camp dwellers, including women, have to take their shower in an open area and the smells from the public toilets often spread around the area. Sanitation issues are discussed at a later chapter.

Service spaces Apart from the common bathing area and public toilets discussed above, some families have their own toilet built into their residence. People have tried to accommodate at least one fixed toilet with a low height water closet where the space is permitted in their room. Ventilation of such toilets is an issue to address as well as the fact they do not have a well-constructed internal drainage system. In some cases, we have seen water spilling over into the room. The dwellings usually have no room for a proper kitchen and generally a stove is placed at the corner of the room by the side of the entrance. This is mainly due to ventilation, as the dwellers think the hot air from the stove will pass out through the door. This is not always the case, mainly due to the cooking habits in the Indian subcontinent culture, the wall by the side of the stove accumulates grease and also stains very quickly; this was observed in many of the homes. On another note, the researchers have also seen people taking their stove outside, in front of their home to cook by the side of the walkway. This ensures hot air does not come inside their room and also avoids grease and stains on walls. Unfortunately, it is not hygienic due to the presence of dust outside. Therefore, proper cleaning and maintenance is required. From this observation it is recommended that training sessions on hygiene issues and well-being should be conducted on a regular basis. These training sessions and lessons can be part of the proposed community learning center’s curriculum.

Outdoor spaces The densely populated camp has a busy outdoor area; with the internal roads in the camp being the main outdoor space for the dwellers. The roads along the main market places are wider than other streets which are mainly narrow walkways and corridors to go into each dwelling. Women, in general, socialise in these corridors and walkways, often cooking and chatting, as discussed earlier. The narrow walkways also act as the playground for the children and in the evening, they use the streets to play cricket and other local street games. There are some shops in the market that offer old arcade style computer games - they are filled with the young teenagers. The tea stalls and snacks corners are occupied by male elders who love to talk about national and local politics in the camp. These busy streets around the market are festive in nature all year. Processions are quite big and colourful, led by the young people in the camp, especially in the month of Ashura; a holy month for Muslims in the Islamic calendar. These processions mainly take place within the camp and often they also march in the surrounding areas outside the camp. Besides festivals and occasions, small children also become vendors and sit by the roadside to sell small number of fruits, eggs or other vegetables. Families also occupy the streets to make canopies to host events such as marriage ceremonies, which are quite decorative and colourful, with people drawing and painting on the streets, personalising the area. From this, it can be seen that the outdoor space is quite important for the community, and it also has multiple uses and holds different meanings for the different groups of people using these communal spaces.

Plan of a typical outdoor scape

Section of a typical outdoor scape

Section of a typical outdoor scape

Sketch of typical outdoor space

Personalization of space

The students have personalised and appropriated spaces, specifically to make it their own. The passion for art, craft and decoration can be widely seen amongst the young generation; this helps them to express their efforts to pursue happiness. Decoration is not only limited to the events but can be seen in their homes. Shirin has a keen eye and has personalised her space, she has converted the top of one shelf as her dressing table, with colourful cosmetics and a mirror. She has hung posters and painted on walls in different locations of the room. She has also painted patterns on the floor, typically known as “Alpona� in Bengali. Ruma has a wall painting at the entrance of her room. The younger males seem to have an obsession with colourful flags, which has a few religious connotations behind it, but the passion is about hanging a flag with various colours on the rooftop. Junayed is involved in competitions with the other youngsters, involving the size and number of colourful flags they can have on their roof. From this understanding, we realise that people in the camp like vivid colours. So a colourful environment in the learning centre maybe a useful feature to attract many youngsters to use the centre, even if they live far away.

Travel area of the characters

Travel zone Shirin and Danish go out of the camp for higher education and have no issues regarding the distance of the learning centre. However, from the sampling interviews in the camp, we learnt that most of the girls do not want to go outside the camp. Their families have restricted them to travel in public places. In contrast we have seen Ruksar and Junayed go to a school placed outside the camp. So, it really depends on the parent's subjective perception of the place outside of the camp, where they are sending their kids. The time of day is also an important factor.. It has been noticed during the workshop sessions that the girls do not want to stay after sunset. We can assume that this is pressure from family and also relates to safety issues in the camp after dark. At present, children from various blocks in the camp, along with their parents, go to pre-school. Appropriate space needs to be provided in the learning centre for these parents so that they are encouraged to bring their children to the centre. To conclude, specific policies and design strategies have to be taken into account so there is a productive use of the learning centre throughout the day. A key focus is to ensure the centre is inclusive of both male and female users.

Location of the communal spaces In search of usable space Land issues The clinic building as a site for the learning centre

CHAPTER 3 Proposing site for the learning centre

This chapter focuses on selecting and analysing sites for the learning centre, reflecting the needs of the young people and the community at large. The solutions to the identified problems and needs have to be incorporated within the proposed learning centre through innovative design. Primarily, the focus is on creating a series of optimum spaces to accommodate the functions needed within an ideal location, alongside the need for convenient access. The challenge is to have such a space available for the centre in the extremely dense camp. In order to achieve this, we looked at the locations of existing community spaces such as schools, shrines, mosque and clubs. The study of these existing public places, which are part of the camp fabric, will enable us to be more reactive when designing and creating spaces for the learning centre. Alongside this, the issues regarding land ownership needs addressing, specifically, the official ownership of the land and how it has been exchanged unofficially to various people within the camp. Due to the flatness of the land and a regular grid system within the camp, it was easier for the dwellers to extend their habitat in both horizontal and vertical ways. The possibility of using spaces at various locations of the camp, such as combining the roofs of various buildings, or using mosques or other large public spaces, has several constraints, which are discussed later in this chapter. Two possible locations have been identified that meet the basic criteria above. We will discuss the challenges of these two sites and the strategies to manage and construct the centre. In the final part of this chapter, we will analyse the proposed site, looking at its physical aspects, its connections to the camp and how to best develop and incorporate a participatory design process to create a centre for learning.

Location of the communal spaces

This section discusses the different types and locations of communal spaces within the camp. The study of the location of existing community spaces indicates certain behavioural patterns, which in turn can enable us to take design and planning decisions for the centre. Most of the communal spaces can be found along the periphery of the camp with a few nearer the centre, mainly due to the location of the market place, which is considered to be the main public space in the camp. Mosques, clubs and bigger “Imam Bara� (shrines of religious leader) are also located near these market places. However, the location of the two mosques, in particular, are not placed at the edge of the main road but connected with a walkway from it. This may be due to the noise and dust on the street. The clinic is situated near the edge of the camp and has easy access with the main road that runs along the periphery of the camp, at the same time it is well connected with the narrow streets that delve deeper into the community. The clinic attracts visitors from almost all blocks of the camp and is bigger in size than other places like school, clubs and shrines. The school building is a good example to study, as it is located at a corner of the camp and has a wide catchment area covering all the blocks of the camp. This building is hosting two organisations who operate separate schools at different times of the day, allowing more students to come to the school and optimises the use of the same space throughout the day. This is a good reference point for learning in relation to the centre, as it also highlights how to accommodate use of the same space at different times of the day. We have also explored the idea of extending a community place like the mosque or clubs as a place for the desired learning centre. The main constraint for not allowing us to construct or extend, is that the existing management wants it to accommodate their own facilities and the much needed environment to study will be effected with such existing conditions.

In search of usable space

Although there are many types of space that could be used for the centre, finding the right size, location and access to amenities means that many spaces we have come across cannot be used for the learning centre, this does not, however, mean that they cannot be used for other positive purposes. For example, there are several pockets of spaces in the camp, especially at the back of each building. Although this is not enough space for learning centre, these spaces can be used to accommodate activities and facilities to enhance the public realm. We discuss possibilities of regenerating this type of space in the next chapter. The roof of the buildings varies from one building to another. But there are places where the roof heights are almost similar to one another. Combining these rooves of the buildings can give us the optimum space to build the proposed centre. However, ownership issues, and desire to extend and build higher or sell floors means that it is quite risky to depend on individual households to commit for the long term. So even though the variation of the height of different building can be overcome by connecting the roofs at various heights with stairs, ownership issues may cause problems and as such exploring such possibilities requires several meetings with the building owners. Another area to be considered is the public toilets area. It was an idea that the public toilet can be reconstructed with proper adjacent facilities in the ground floor and the other floors on the top can be used as the proposed community learning centre. The issues that we need to consider is that the busy public toilet zone can contradict the calm environment that we are expecting in the learning centre. People perceive toilet as a dirty zone in this area. So the learning centre at the top can fail to attract the students as desired.

Land issues

Urban land is, as expected, a very valuable asset for any one owning it and in a city like Dhaka, where land is so scarce, there are many pressures upon it. The scarcity of such a resource has led to the development of an intricate and complex system of transactions and ownership. Due to its high value, there are many people who live outside the camp but still possess buildings inside the camp which are rented out. There are two ways to understand the complex ownership of land; one is the formal and governmental position, which is legally acknowledged and the other is the informal practice of exchanges within the camp which is not legally recognized. Historically, the land of Mohammadpur Geneva Camp is owned by the Liaquat Housing Society, a formal entity, owned by the private land owners of the area before the liberation war of 1971. It is one of the few camps of the Urdu-speaking community where the land is still privately owned. After the war, most of the private land owners left and resettled in various parts of the city and others moved to Pakistan. Although legally, Liaquat Housing Society exists, the absence of the land owners means that no one can take formal control of the land. The government declared the land as a site for a camp as proposed by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), but no further evidence has been found in which the government has taken ownership of the land yet they gave ICRC the permission to build within the camp. So, although the land is owned by the members of the Liaquat Housing Society, no rent is currently being paid to them. Unofficially, like many other slums in Dhaka city, the land is thought to be owned by the people who first came to settle in the camp. After the ICRC left, the government assigned the charge of the camp to ......, . Camp dwellers living in the dwelling they built started to divide and extend their houses as their family and economic activity grew. Thus, an organic settlement started to grow and over time developed into a slum from a planned and designed camp. The land or the ground floor of each structure is still owned by the family of the original settlers, but those that can afford it, either rent out the top floors or sell each floor of the house. It is important to know that in most cases, buildings have one or two rooms on each floor and are solid structures, made of non-engineered brick walls with often a corrugated iron sheet as a roof which has a high risk of collapsing in a small scale earthquake.

The clinic building as a site for the learning centre

A potential site for the learning centre is the existing clinic in the Mohammadpur Geneva Camp. This section explores the history of the clinic and then analyses the building itself as a site for the community learning centre. The clinic is a two-storey brick structure with an area of approx. 135 metre square per floor. It was used as a clinic when the ICRC was operating and managing the camp in the 1970's. Later it was handed over to the BDRC, who subsequently gave it to HEED Bangladesh to run, and finally it was given to Al-Falah Bangladesh by the landowner. Due to lack of proper and continuous funding, it has been scaled down. At the same time there are now many hospitals located near the camp that have better facilities. Also, doctors are not available every day at the clinic and there is preference to go tothe nearby hospitals. The landowner's family, reported to be established in the main stream society, and Al-Falah have a mutual understanding with regards to the clinic, which is that Al-Falah will take care of the land and the building. Al-Falah is still running the site, despite repeated failure to pay the rent due because of the lack of funds. Now, Al-Falah Bangladesh (2013) is in the process to come to an agreement with the landowner, to construct the proposed community learning centre at the site. Al-Falah Bangladesh has started a pre-schooling session for children who will be going to school after one year. It is quite successful in teaching the children and their mother to attend school regularly on time, properly dressed and organised in a daily routine. This is a great initiative, as the parents have not been to school, so they are unaware of various norms, rules and procedures. This initiative by Al-Falah Bangladesh can be further improved and we expect to be able to facilitate more in the proposed learning centre. Apart from this session, which runs in one room for 1-2 hours, Al-Falah also has computer lab in the second floor, although the computers are quite obsolete and slow and there is no fund to appoint a teacher for the students. The present situation of the programs make the researchers realize that the proposed learning centre has to generate its own income from various means in order to be both sustainable economically and transformative in the social, educational and cultural spheres of the community. There are multiple reasons to believe that this building has the potential to be reconstructed as the proposed community learning centre. Firstly, the size of the site is optimum for the proposed facilities to be in place. Second, the location of the site is at the edge of the camp, which is well connected by roads from both outside and inside the camp. Third, it has a good catchment area and can be used by, not only the camp dwellers but, by the people living around the local area. Fourth, it is in a good location to invite many artists and intellectuals, thus further bridging the gap that exists between main stream city dwellers and camp dwellers through creative endeavours such as poetry reciting, painting and fine arts, music performances Etc.

The proposed site has a wide street in front and is rectangular in shape and has good access into and out of the camp. The ground level is lower than the road in front, which means rain water enters the building. The roof of the building is currently of a corrugated metal sheet supported with steel frames hinged on the brick walls. The doors and the windows are adequate but the arrangement of the internal rooms does not allow enough light to enter inside. The strength of the load bearing walls has been weakened because of a high level of moisture and cracks which have developed in many places. The building is habitable at the moment, but is not ideal for the proposed community learning centre. It would be advisable to demolish the existing weak structures on the site and construct well-lit, multifunctional and structurally safe spaces in a new building, so that it can holistically accommodate various facilities for the community. There are some small rooms in a one level separate structure in front of the main building and within the area of the site, however, the roofs and walls of these rooms are badly damaged. Thus, removing these rooms could be an ideal place for the children to play as well as containing public seating areas. The front of the site can also be used for multiple facilities and can host small events like open air exhibitions or other cultural activities.

Water and sanitation system Waste management system


Use of technology Plantation

Other issues to address

Managing public spaces Entertainment, sports & culture Community members opinion about the learning centre

This chapter addresses issues beyond that of the students' learning environment, looking at the wider issues that are impacting the camp at large. It is clear from the empirical research that improved water and sanitation, waste management, better utilisation of public spaces and use of better technology as well the ability to have social and cultural activities are all important elements in the design of the proposed centre. The learning centre can be used as a space for knowledge exchange as well as a hub of communal activity. It should be a place that enables positive changes, to build a healthy, vibrant and cohesive living environment within the camp. Several issues were raised by the students who came to the workshops and although not all of these issues can be addressed immediately, those issues related to the design and development of the built environment, will be incorporated into the project. The issue of water and sanitation was raised on several occasions, as well as managing waste and the importance of having access to entertainment, culture and sports facilities/activities. At the same time, we were keen to know about the use of technology within the camp, as this will enable us to look at the role it can play in promoting education and knowledge exchange. Similarly, we have observed that there is a serious lack of soft or green space in the camp. Plantation is an issue that we wanted to bring forward to the community in the context of climate change and also as a potential tool to securing access to nutritious and whole foods, which can, if incorporated properly, also become an additional source of income. Alongside this, we understand that due to the absence of plantation, heat is being trapped in the walls and roofs of the buildings, hence the temperature does not drop at night as is the norm in this tropical environment. We have also looked into the management aspect of the present community places like the club and mosques and how they sustain themselves. This gives us some references on how the proposed library can operate as well. The following pages will provide a basis for a holistic and people centred approach for the community, incorporating the various aspects of the needs of the community as outlined by the respondents, as well as focussing on the importance of education and knowledge exchange as a tool for positive transformation.

Water and sanitation system

Throughout the discussions, the issue of water and sanitation has been raised many times. When the camp was constructed, proper underground and surface drainage was incorporated into the design of the camp, which the dwellers still enjoy today. Due to poor maintenance however, many areas of the surface drainage system has broken down. There have been several complaints regarding the negligence of the cleaners of the City Corporation who do not work on a regular routine and have little interest in clearing blockages in the drain, which occur frequently because of the dumping of household waste in and around the drains. Out of the nine blocks in the camp, six of the blocks have toilet facilities, each containing eight toilets. People living in the three other blocks have to share the bath and toilets of nearby blocks. Out of the eight toilets, four are for men and four for women. This means that on average more than a hundred people have to use one toilet which means that it generally takes about 30 minutes to get access to one. At busy periods however, they have to wait for more than an hour. The issue of privacy in these toilets is usually met by hanging a rag curtain and most do not have artificial lighting and/or secure doors. The bathrooms are roofless, and it is difficult to create privacy for young girls and women. It has been observed by the researchers that children use the open drains as a toilet and they are not able to clean themselves after doing this. Safe drinking water is another vital issue to address, with two tube-wells in each block. The underground water system is relatively safer than the tap water. It is the women and girls who collect and carry water in buckets or pitchers for drinking and household work. The underground water level in Dhaka city is going down at an alarming rate. In the near future, the people may not get the access to water from the tube well. Therefore, it is important to have access to the regular tap water system like others in the city. At the same time it is also important to train them to boil water before drinking for better prevention of waterborne and water transmitted diseases. To conclude, the scale of the problem is quite high in relation to water and sanitation improvements, and this needs to be taken as a separate initiative, perhaps, led by the community themselves with support from others. However, it is also possible to have some provision for toilets in the centre which can facilitate the needs of the camp dwellers, especially women and kids. If a small charge is levied on this, the revenue can be used to maintain the toilets and add to the income stream for the centre, as well as being used as a pilot model for repairing and extending existing toilet blocks.

Waste management system

This section looks at the issue of managing waste within the camp, which has an open drainage system. As discussed earlier, the camp has an underground and surface drainage system. The major issue is the throwing of household garbage or used water into the open drain, along with the children using it as a toilet. Usually the women and girls go to the central dustbin (located where?) to discard household garbage or waste. During the rainy season, drains overflow, making it difficult to walk through the camp. The garbage is removed by the garbage collector of the City Corporation every alternate day from the three large common bins, two are located inside the camp and one in the east side of the camp. It was important to look at how waste is being managed, monitored and discarded within the camp in order to propose potential solutions to improving the environment of the camp - specifically reducing bad odours and diseases that can quickly materialise from left over waste as well as stopping the vermin and rodents, flies and other disease carrying insects being attracted by the waste. It is important to look at other communities and how they manage their waste, looking at recycling practices, using food and other waste to make compost or bio-fuels, as well as community based monitoring systems, to ensure streets and walkways remain clean. Training and encouraging better management of waste within the camp will create a safer environment for children to play, as well as a more attractive environment for living.

Use of technology

This section explores the potential use of technology in the learning centre, to connect using internet to a greater knowledge base as well as using computers to train and teach. An important issue to note is that not all of the camp dwellers are poor, many can afford to have a small television, CD player and even computers in their home. The research assistants were surprised to see some of them changing and upgrading their mobile phone sets relatively frequently. It was also learnt that on average the young people pay 200-300 taka (ÂŁ2.00-ÂŁ3.00) per month for their mobile phone bill. From these observations, we realise that there are many young people in the camp who can potentially pay for the service which maybe available in the learning centre. Again, this can be an additional income generator to cover the expenses to run the learning centre in the long run. A priority however, is to take into consideration those unable to pay for services, so a system of subsidised and affordable payment structures should be developed. Besides using mobile phones we have also learnt that some of the dwellers have refrigerators, freezers, radio and other electronic products in their homes, which seem to be cheaper electronic products imported from China. Another tool to consider is the internet, which is not that popular or accessible in the camp, with mostly the young students accessing it from the internet cafĂŠ outside of the camp. Most of the time, they use it to browse Facebook and other social media sites. Most of them use the internet to download MP3 Hindi songs and video songs and are still unaware about the use of the internet for educational purposes. To conclude, the rate of change and development of technology means that it is constantly becoming more and more affordable, with 3G internet now available in Dhaka and other parts of Bangladesh, there is a great scope to intertwine connections over the internet and using teaching tools that are available online.


Plantation of trees and plants is almost absent in the area. We have already mentioned the relation between the absence of plants and heat generation from the hard surfaces. From the interviews, we found that there are a few two stories houses that have plants in pots on the rooftop, it is the women and girls of the family who are the caretakers of the plants. Growing more plants for edible, medicinal and aesthetic values is a good way to engage with the community members. It encourages ownership of a small space, and also helps to feed, or generate some income. The kitchen garden can be a secondary source of income for many. Due to the existing economic and social conditions, as well as health, there is a greater need to promote vegetation in and around the houses of the camp. The concept of the kitchen garden has to be initiated and shown to the community in practice. The learning centre can include the space to grow various trees and plants, as well as connect with wider networks that already exist regarding organic food systems and processes. The plants may create a cooler environment in the centre and showcasing the cultivation for the camp dwellers could lead to the transformation of their eating habits. RUAF's From Seed to Table programme, being implemented in Latin American cities can also be a good example to learn from and adopt as well as Urban Agriculture, which can be a separate tool for transformation, as it can connect with other camps whilst encouraging economic productivity as well as nutritious food for those unable to afford it.

Managing public spaces

This section looks at the management of various social gathering spaces such as the mosque or club. Most of the funds raised to run such organisations is related to the strong beliefs of the supporters and the views that they possess, a community based management system is fundamental and critical to the success of the learning centre. The role of facilitators and others will be to encourage community ownership of the centre, as well as providing the tools needed to run it as a productive and transformation space. Mosques are mainly established with a temporary structure at the beginning of their journey. As the users of the place began to come in to offer their prayers they are encouraged or motivated to donate money. These donations from the users help the mosque committee to cover day to day expenses and save to renovate and extend the mosque complex. Strong religious views and beliefs are the important reason for such donation regardless of the financial capacity that individuals have. The management committee of the mosques are officially elected for each term, being accepted by the government agencies for religious affairs. The team is responsible to recruit the staff for the mosque, including the Imam who leads the prayers. The clubs are operating through another format, with the committee recruiting members who are the strong supporters of various activities, These members pay annual fees which help to support the day to day expenses. Apart from these, the clubs offers various paid games for the guests and members. Sponsorships from various other organisations and companies for special events are an important source of income for these clubs. The management committee of such clubs are expected to be elected by the members but such practice depends on the size of the clubs. The school on the other hand was established in a very small scale by some members of the community. Later, there was a donation by the Kuwait government to expand. The school was seriously damaged by a fire and later it was rebuilt by an NGO. Although they profess to offer free education to the children, they take around 30 - 50 Taka each month from every parent as a small payment to cover basic costs. A similar mechanism was seen by Al-Falah Bangladesh operated pre-schooling. To conclude, it is clear that the learning centre will need to include members of the community as part of its management structure as well as ensuring many income generating mechanisms beyond the initial capital investment.

Sports, entertainment and cultural activities This section looks at the celebration of the unique culture of Urdu speaking people in the camp, their chosen entertainment and the variety of sports which seem to overcome the limitations of space. Although there is no field for outdoor sport in the camp, the children play on the streets, usually games which they have created with the resources available to them, various times of the day. The school in the camp doesn't have much open space and those who attend schools outside the camp enjoy playing in the big open field. Like other teenagers in Dhaka, they are also attracted to video games offered by the shops in the camps market. Carom, chess and ludo are the indoor games played by some young boys, girls and young adult males. Watching television is the only means of recreation for many of the elder family members. The elders have free time mostly in the evening and most of them are unwilling to sacrifice their tv viewing for the sake of their children's study. They watch mostly Hindi programmes or films, as the language is very close to Urdu. Proper outdoor facilities for recreation are missing in the camp. There is no open space in the camp where the members can host events and enjoy along with their neighbours. Public realm is also absent in the camp. Lack of public arena in the camp is an obstacle for other organization in the city to come and exchange ideas with the people. The Urdu speaking camp based community in Bangladesh has a very rich and unique culture. All around the year they celebrate various religious and social events. Eid-ul-Adha, Eid-ul-Fitr and Moharram festivals are the main religious events they celebrate. They are well known to the mainstream city dwellers for their big, colourful musical processions in the month of Muharram (a month in Arabic calendar). Though majority of the inhabitants are Sunni Muslims, there are also Shi'ah Muslims living in the camp. There is no such cultural activity for them other than these three festivals. Although, very recently, celebrating the Independence Day of Bangladesh has begun, it is important for the community to take further initiatives to encourage them to take part in national events to reduce the gap between them and the mainstream citizens. Alongside these religious events, marriage ceremonies are of importance to the community, acting as a big social event, also with great colours and music. The children and young adults do not have access to any facilities for cultural exchange within their own communities and people from mainstream Bangladeshis. Due to the lack of a centre for social, cultural and arts activities, they do not have much scope to have interaction with the mainstream Bangladeshis, which is one of the key reasons for the widening gap between them as well as a possible hindrance for mutual understanding. To conclude, there is a great absence of cultural exchange and incorporation with the mainstream citizens of the city and country at large. The spatial plans of the proposed learning centre can provide that opportunity to host various activities and events to promote art, culture and literature in the camp and exchange the creativity between communities.

Community members' opinion about the learning centre

From the survey conducted, the parents had various opinions about the proposed learning centre, with the majority agreeing that their children find it difficult to study at home. Due to security concerns however, they do not allow them to go outside of the camp. They really like the idea of having a designated place for children to study after school, with some parents also recommending that the private tutors should use the centre to teach. The students understand the importance of the centre as they are the ones facing the challenges to study at home. They raised the concern of female students gaining permission from their parents to go to the centre in the evening if needed. To gain the confidence and trust of the parents, a key factor is security, which may include clear indoor lighting and visibility as well as well-lit streets and footpaths. The idea of using the same space for various activities is a popular concept among the interviewees. The community members have also stated that there were many initiatives before to establish other kinds of facilities in the camp but very few have been executed. It is important to have a long term plan to run the facilities, and a strong and able management team who can lead the learning centre towards becoming a beacon of community transformation.

Study outcomes Design concept & strategies Management Strategies Moving forward

CHAPTER 5 Conclusion

Study outcomes

The objective of the study was to research and understand the scope for establishing and piloting a community learning and resource centre in the Geneva Camp for the Urdu-speaking camp-dwellers. The community have recently gained citizenship from the Supreme Court in Bangladesh and the young generation, those born post 1971, are keen to integrate as Bangladeshi citizens. At the same time, there has been little socio-cultural and educational progress within this community and to integrate with the rest of society and to become active and engaged citizens, the young generation need to use education as a tool for transformation, mainly, to become capable of attaining jobs in all sectors, representing their community at local, regional and national arenas and also engaging with their needs and wants as individuals. There is a large number of young Urdu-speaking camp dwellers, struggling to study, due to the constraints of their living environments, the study clearly outlines the need for a community learning centre, which can also engage with the wider needs of the people. Although this study did not include other camps, it can be assumed that there are similar conditions existing within them in relation to existing conducive environments for studying. The spatial analysis of the students living environment explained the scarcity of space and the slum conditions of the camp. The living conditions do not adequately support studying at home. The provision for a conducive educational environment is urgently required for them. A well lit, clean and quiet place for learning purposes will provide much needed support, enabling them to do better at school. The family members can also use their homes for other household needs, once the students are studying at the centre, thus defusing the competition for use of space andany negative impact that arises from multiple activities happening at the same time. For example, Danish's mother may no longer have to go to the neighbour's place when he invites his friends for group study sessions. Apart from using the learning centre for study purposes, the place can also extend its activity to address other issues facing the community. It can act as a training centre, providing much needed knowledge and tools to the camp dwellers for health, safety, sanitation, socio-cultural awareness and entertainment as well as developing cohesive communities. Alongside this, the centre can help pilot innovative, community-led models of managing its services such as waste collection, urban agriculture, cultural and arts exchange programmes amongst others.

Lack of designated outdoor space is a major setback for the young generation for play. There are many students who are good at creative writing, singing and dancing. The passion for performing arts needs to be utilised, especially to practise and be able to compete at the national level. Fine art is deeply embedded in the young people and their artistic potential has been expressed on their walls and floors. This potential has to be explored and nourished. The exchange of culture and tradition through showcasing the best of the community may minimise the gap between mainstream city dwellers and the camp residents. Broken water and sanitation system needs to be restored and an ideal set of conditions can be put in place at the camp, although this needs to be a separate project alongside the learning centre. The centre can facilitate clean water and sanitation system for its own purpose. Several other outcomes from this study have been stated earlier already. To conclude, it is important to derive a series of design strategies, to help plan and implement the desired community learning centre, incorporating many of the issues and needs discussed as well as a series of action plans, that look to address the imbalance that maybe created when trying to create a catalytic movement of change.

Design based strategies

This section outlines a series of design strategies for the proposed community learning centre. The strategies are the set of guidelines and principals for designing the proposed community learning centre. From the outcome of the research, it is recommended to propose a community learning centre which will celebrate the free flow of space in contrast with the spatial conditions of the camp. The centre should be a place of relief from the narrow and small living condition. The centre should be visually transparent to the community, celebrate natural light and passive cooling system with free flow of cool and clean air. In addition to establish an eco-friendly sustainable structure, it is important to introduce natural elements like plants, trees and flowers to attract birds and butterflies, in sharp contrast with the existing brick and concrete jungle. The contrast nature of the learning centre has to be reflected in spatial organization and formal expression. The centre itself will carry a statement for the camp dwellers and neighbouring areas about the presence of Urdu speaking camp based community and their desire to live with respect, dignity and hope for a better future. The design strategies to support the proposed concept are given below. Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ

Free flow of space. Interconnected space, visually and physically. Small foot print on the ground. The ground floor has to facilitate various public events that celebrate art culture and other creativity of local, national and international artists. The ground floor can be a place for multiple uses, from hosting performing art and outdoor exhibitions to small scale sports competition. But events that generate loud noises should be avoided. The upper floors are dedicated to library, computer zone and multiple study area. The place for tutors and group study can be at different levels. One office room and community radio station. Bathroom and toilets for public and learning centre users should be in place at various levels as required. The building material has to be sustainable. Provision for roof top plantation and other green elements. The formal expression of the building should respect the local tropical climate. Adequate shading device should be in place with provision for natural ventilation. The study area should prevent the intrusion of loud noise from outside. The interior space should represent the cultural aspect of the community and provision to personalize the area should be given. Provision for multiple uses of the same space as learned from this study. Community should be consulted on every step of the design process.

Management strategies

The importance of education is sometimes given less priorityby the students' families over mosque and clubs. They understand the value of education but are unwilling to spend a fair part of their income. Most schools are run on donation so that they can offer free education. A learning centre has no religious values to the people like the mosque or Imam Bara, the shrines do. It is of less interest to the people who like to spend money on entertainment. On the other hand it is important to establish the revenue earning mechanism for the learning centre. Therefore ideas are needed to be in place to attract the people to be a part of the learning centre and encourage them to donate or spend on the services offered by the centre. There has been several formal and informal meeting with the officials of the proposed local partner AlFalah Bangladesh on the issue of management strategies. Simultaneously, we have also gathered information on other community places in the camp. After considering all the information we have gathered the recommendation on the management strategies are given below: Initially there will be three parties involved with the project. Paraa will be in charge of design and project management for the project. Al-Falah Bangladesh will be the local implementing partner. The landowner will be the third party who will be a part of the management team. Paraa will be the leading partner of the three. The landowner will permit to construct the proposed centre according to the agreed design. They will be given rent each month on agreed design. They will lease the land to the centre. Paraa will bear all the expenses to operate the centre for the first two years of operation. It will appoint and train the management team and staff to operate the centre efficiently. Revenue earned from the facilities of the centre will be used to cover its expenses. Paraa will hand over the management to Al-Falah Bangladesh after the centre starts to cover its own expenses.

Moving forward

The next steps of the project are very crucial. Funds should be in place to design and construct the centre as soon as possible. The construction time is best after the rainy season, which lasts till August. Students from the community and other professionals should be engaged in the design phase. Design competition can be organized to look at various design ideas from students in Bangladesh and UK. The students of the camp can participate in the decoration of the interior rooms. This will give them the sense of ownership. Volunteers will be welcomed to operate the centre at various times. The construction phase can take from 8 months to one year, depending on the funding, climate and political situation of the country. The area is politically quite sensitive and Paraa have to negotiate with the government to get permission to build such a project. The success of the learning centre is important for Paraa to work further to develop the built environment of the camp. One of the possible projects after the learning centre can be to develop various places inbetween the building that can be converted into public places. A shelf full of books can be placed for the students to read the books in those places and other features can be offered to develop the public realm. The proposed learning centre is expected to provide a study friendly environment with other ancillary facilities to support their study efforts. The learning centre can help them to think differently, make them part of the mainstream city dwellers and accelerate their confidence to be the person they want to be in future.

Research team members

Research Director: Nazmus Saquib Chowdhury Research planning: Nazmus Saquib Chowdhury Ruhul Abdin Editors: Runi Khan Michael Kavanagh Ruhul Abdin Advisers: Shahidullah Faruq Quazi Mahtab Uz Zaman, PhD Design researcher and team leader Majeda Khatun Design research assistant Muminul Hoq Shaheen Refat Anwar Mir Rasauddin A.k.m. Shamsul Arefeen Ishtiaque Ahmed Mahbubul Islam Nazmus Sakib Ehab Kamal Mostapha Photography: Nazmus Sakib Rendering and graphic illustration: Majeda Khatun

Research coordinator & facilitator Mohammad Hassan (Al-Falah Bangladesh) Research assistants Mohammad Danish Mohammad Rezaul Huq Jony Shirin Aktar Mohammad Hassan Shama Mohammad Masum Ansari Mirza Tumpa Researcher: Md. Azad Chartered accountancy firm: Islam and Co.

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