Experiments with eco-friendly village architecture
Environmental pollution levels are increasing day by day. We are always thinking about our cities but we do not think much about our villages. But most of our villages are facing extreme air pollution and it harmfully impacts human health. From 'Rabindranath Tagore' to Father of the Nation 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman' all had endless dreams for 'The Rural development of Bengal'. Now we need to think about this burning issue for our own sustainable development. As an architect and researcher, I am thinking about an eco-architectural pattern for villages which can ensure dweller's good indoor environment and health. Because of a good house can give a good health and mind.
Few days ago, Assam Engineering College and 'Smart Village Lab' University of Melbourne invited me to conduct a workshop named 'Environmental Experiences Design'. Renowned academician and researcher Dr. MasaNaguchi from University of Melbourne was the team leader of that two days workshop. Dr. Noguchi is the founding coordinator of Zero Energy Mass Custom Home (ZEMCH) Network (www.zemch.org) which consists of over 685 partners from nearly 40 countries and initiated a number of industry-academia knowledge transfer events.
The main theme of the workshop was the development of environmental quality for the village dwellers. From this workshop suggestions for any normal changes were given to the dwellers, so that they could easily update their present situation without any expenses. In that case, participants needed to talk to dwellers about their different issues of every day's life style, living pattern and observe their human behaviour from the very near to them.
We need to remember, it is not the last thing to save city's lives only from the environmental pollution, but also save the common people of the country's rural area who has lower economical strength.
They need to be careful about their own health and environmental condition. And to protect these villages, a collaborative agreement has been signed by the Local Government of Assam with the University of Melbourne to capture community specific data for supporting localized planning processes focusing on the housing and infrastructure sectors. According to them the research effort is expected to support conceptualizing the "Smart Villages" in Assam by empowering the rural community with localized planning and policy support. Dr. Hemanta Doloi is the director and leader of this project who wants to develop the principle of social equity.
Later, there was an international conference where many researches on eco-village projects were displayed. There was also a detailed discussion on how to make a self-sufficient eco-village which will be more environmental friendly. I observed and thought that so many creative things can be done in our country's villages for a good environment! To speak the truth that we still do not have our own pattern of different cities, sub-cities or villages-centric architecture, which will be different from one to another and this will be another burning question near future. If this is happening continuously then the existence of villages will be dissolved soon, it can be said from today's position!
Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries. About 60% of the country's population lives in only the rural areas. On the other hand, Dhaka is the most populated city in Bangladesh, and it is also one of the most populated cities in the world. The Greater Dhaka Area has a population of over 18 million as of 2016, while the city itself has a population estimated at about 8.5 million. It has been noted that about 44 % of the total population lives in the mega cities of Bangladesh because these cities have the vast work opportunities.
According to the statistics, about 3.5 million people arrives at Dhaka city from outside areas everyday in any way to work there on daily basis. As result, it creates tremendous pressure and also burden for the mega cities. So if any way to improve the villages or sub-cities condition, then it may be better for the village people to stop running towards this city. In this way, the city will be slightly mild, and the environment will remain good.
Now the main question is how we can develop our villages to eco-concept, especially for the houses and health sectors. There must be a different environmental aspect and criteria for the village architecture to develop a better indoor environment for the general people. Necessary research is needed not only in papers but also in reality. Need to set specific laboratory at university's level at first. In Bangladesh BUET, CUET, KUET and RUET can play very vital and pioneer role by setting 'Eco Village Laboratory' Where a researcher will find adequate infrastructural facilities for their researches and practices.
But the hope is that the present newly elected government has given special importance to the environment-friendly rural development for Bangladesh in this election year, which is different from the previous years. It has been mentioned in their manifesto about all the facilities in every village. If it continues on the basis of the right planning from the very beginning, then first of all, 'Eco-village or Smart Village' concept will be established, which must be done at every level of rural planning. Proper action will be taken by the coordination of multi-disciplinary committee for the implementation in every village. In that case, short-term plans rather than big plans will be the most effective way to achieve sustainable goal.
The writer is Assistant Professor and Environmental Researcher, Department of Architecture, Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology (CUET)