Dhaka / Master Plan in 1917 by Geddes

Master Plan in 1917 by Patrick Geddes , during British Colonial rule

During British colonial times, not long after the withdrawal of partition of Bengal in 1911 when Dhaka lost its prominent position, that Geddes formulated his master plan after a short visit to Dhaka in 1916.

Geddes’ report comprises nine chapters in a brief 22 page document including chapters such as Geography and Town Origin, Survey of Dhaka, Study of Quarters in detail, Housing issue, discussion on Open Spaces, discussion on Cannels etc. He highlighted the need for comprehensive town planning and emphasize on conserving the character of the city while accommodating growth. His vision is mostly rhetorical and utopian, firmly planted in the western tradition. The Master Plan was based on the concept of the Garden City and evident from the romantic street pattern and garden of the Ramna area. It reports on town planning for Dhaka after detailed analysis of problems and predicts Dhaka’s possibilities to become a beautiful city with parks and canals. He further divided Dhaka into zones that offered an outline for development of the old town area with colonial offices and residential buildings.

Although the geography of Dhaka and other social aspects were the defining factors of his plan, he failed to inspire a vision that could be formally implemented. However, the influence of the guidelines is still being able to be seen in the Dhaka University area. Hayder argues, “His proposal was an informal document – a sketchy guideline for the future development of the city. It never met with formal recognition”. He argues that the main drawback of this plan was its incompleteness and lack of details.

1917 The above figure shows the planned zonings by Geddes in 1917

The Failure of the 1917 Geddes Master Plan and 1959 Minoprio, Spencely, Macfarlane Master Plans: Some Reflections, Bayezid Ismail Choudhury, Paul Jones, Peter Armstrong Faculty of Architecture and Planning, University of Sydney, Australia

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