Friday, February 27, 2009

Presentation: week 4

Before we head to areas of war and disaster we present you with our midterm presentation. You can skip through the presentation by pressing on the triangle buttons, and click on the fullscreen button for a bigger view.


Thursday, February 26, 2009



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Analysis: analytical approach

The theme for our case study is the spatial condition of an urbanizing Bangladesh, a process defined by constantly recurring (natural) disasters. We use the term urbanizing rather than urban as the population of Bangladesh, despite its density (with a population of over 150 million Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world), largely live in rural conditions. In the case of Bangladesh, rural does not refer to traditional western notions of low density housing in a natural setting, but rather to an economy based on agriculture and a typology of dense city-sized villages. Bangladesh is a country with enough critical mass to evolve into a highly urbanized metropolis, but for various reasons it hasn’t. In our research we aim to explore the notion that the urbanizing condition of Bangladesh is related to the recurring disasters that the country faces as well as to the response to these disasters.

Our research methods will focus on bottom up-mapping of the spatial and socio-economical processes of daily life in this urbanizing Bangladesh. We will investigate relations between economic, social, geographical, political, historical and climatological aspects and try to find out why the urbanization of Bangladesh looks the way it does, what potentials it has and where it can go from here.

As specific cases studies we will focus on two regions and two disasters; Chittagong and which got hit by the Gorky cyclone in 1991, and the Barisal division which got hit by the Sidr cyclone in 2007.

Historically Bangladesh has always been a region prone to disasters. Cyclones, tornadoes, floods, landslides and earthquakes are regularly recurring events. With cyclone shelters, wind resistant huts and refined warning systems the country has in time learned to deal with the disasters and recurring disasters has become another factor of daily life. While natural disasters in the region have intensified in the last 50 years, the percentage of people losing their lives to these events has steadily declined. Bangladesh has adopted a flexible coping mechanism based on evacuation, cover and reconstruction. A good result by any standard, but what does the combination of effective defense system specialized in saving lives and increasingly hard-hitting cyclones leave in its wake?

example of 70's cyclone shelter

With a large percentage of the population living with minimal means off what the land offers, the material damage the recurring disasters deal on a household level is profound. While lives are saved livestock and harvests are not. Potentially the state of urbanizing in Bangladesh is directly linked to the inability to sustain livelihoods at a small scale. As people struggle to recover from the disasters, a downward spiral from poor and vulnerable to poorer and even more vulnerable ensues. While the coping mechanism of Bangladesh successfully saves lives, a massive amount of time, money and energy is spent trying to rebuild damaged economical systems.

In our research we would like to understand the factors that are holding Bangladesh from breaking through this stalemate and whether its urban potentials could manifest themselves, or if this is even desired.

The research into the Barisal region and the Sidr aftermath is directly linked to the idea of urbanizing Bangladesh as a coherent, densely populated rural region. Looking to the impact and aftermath of this disaster will give us clues about the hows and whys of the vulnerability of small scale livelihoods and socio-economic networks as well as the peculiarities of this typology. 

The Chittagong case on the other hand will, with its distance in time, give us insights into the long-term effects of Bangladesh disaster management as well as highlight an increasingly pressing issue provided our theory holds water; that of how to deal with disaster management in large cities threatened by recurring natural disasters. A situation in which established Bengali strategies based on adaptability, evacuation, and specially designed refugee shelters will be pushed beyond their limit.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Presentation: week 3

The presentation inweek 3 focused on clarifying the position of our research within the studio. With one week left before we head to Bangladesh, we wanted to fix our framework before going deeper into specific methods and case data.


Ship Breaking in Bangladesh

An insight into the steel industry of Bangladesh and another take on "recycling".


Tuesday, February 17, 2009



Presentation: week 2

All the groups presented their work plans and timelines last Friday. Our aim was to show some preliminary conclusions graphically, without fixing our focus point too much just now. Our evolutionary timeline was made up of numerous layers of statistical data, so that we can start to investigate relationships within the Bangladeshi developments. Click on the read more link to see some presentation slides.

(press fullscreen icon, second from right)

(press the arrow keys to slide through the presentation)

(Laura: "don't touch the balkje please")


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tools: Space Syntax

During the first two weeks we have been working with a program called Space Syntax. This program lets us analyze the connectivity and visibility within cities. We are planning to use this program for mapping Chittagong before we leave to investigate the site. The image gives you an impression of the program's possibilities.



Tuesday we got our vaccinations at the SGZ in Delft. These include: DTP (diphteria, tetanus, poliomyelitis), Hepatitis A, and Typhoid fever. We will be taking malaria pills during our stay in the Chittagong area. We got additional medical advice as well. 

It's not the happiest feeling to be waiting for the nurse to prepare the needles ...


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Analysis: points of interest

Currently we are working on collecting basic data, which we will be combining in an evolutionary timeline in the coming weeks. These include graphs regarding demographic statistics and the disaster events and impacts. Below you can read some of our first ideas. Mostly we are interested in looking at the way the Bangladeshi cope with the threat of different natural disasters, and how this affects especially their daily lives. Whereas most research and relief aid is done on a rational or pragmatic level, we aim to also investigate these daily lives on a bottom-up manner, through interconnectivity, flows, and specific mapping techniques.

Comparison with the Netherlands: it is interesting to compare the Bangladesh delta with that of the Netherlands. Both countries are densely populated, are flat and are very low-lying. Obviously, the two contrast strongly economically. How do economically challenged (we will stay politically correct here) countries cope with similar issues of water quantity (storm surges) and water quality (drinking water).

Comparing the 1991 Chittagong Cyclone with the 2007 Sidr Cyclone: in Bangladesh we will, firstly, research the impacts of the 1991 cyclone on the redevelopment within Chittagong city. Based on the data and timeline that we will produce there, we will research in more detail the effects of the Sidr Cyclone in the Barisal/Patuakhali/Barguna region. The area is a densely populated semi-urban rural area. What differences will there be in redevelopment, and at which phase on the Chittagong timeline will the redevelopment be?

Comparing different disasters: if we have time to do so, it would be interesting to look at the 2007 and 2008 landslides in Chittagong. We could also have a quick look at the Chars and see how flooding affects the way of life of the inhabitants there.

Nomadic culture: we are interested in the almost nomadic life of some Bangladeshi due to the recurring natural disasters. The large concrete shelters that have been built can now function as a temporary shelter until the disaster has passed. Houses are rebuilt, and they build them to be destroyed later on. How, then, does this nomadic life affect city life? Although Bangladesh is densely populated, only a quarter of the people live in cities. This is a low amount compared to the average of fifty percent. If houses are built flexible, is infrastructure built in the same way? Or does infrastructure have a more permanent nature? And how are land right issues settled?

Rapid reconstruction: when looking more closely to cities like Chittagong, there is a potential to reconstruct parts of the city often due to the recurring disasters. Are houses in cities built more rigidly? If not, then how is redevelopment done? How much planning intervention is apparent?

Tools: to do our research we will make use of several tools or methods. We have been learned a few of them briefly in the last few lectures: GIS, combined with GPS software, and Space Syntax. We are planning to use GIS to research how close concrete shelters are placed to the neighbouring cities. Space Syntax can be used to see how safe distant villages combined with evacuation routes. And finally we can use GPS software to do help us with mapping techniques of flows in especially Chittagong city. This could help us in researching, bottom-up, the daily lives on the population.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Hindi indie radio

Get in the right mood with RadioVeRVe, hindi (indie) radio, while we keep searching for original pirate Bengali radio.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Analysis: workshop in emergency shelter design

During the first week of lessons after the winter holidays, the Urban Emergencies studio finally kicked off. With a three day long workshop in emergnecy shelter design under supervision by Jim Kennedy we got a first-hand introduction into the world of post-disaster re-development. Our thoughts on these days are presented in our workshop reports.

Workshop report by Laura (.pdf 22kB)
Workshop report by Magnus (.pdf 14kB)
Workshop report by Diederik (.pdf 64kB)


Monday, February 2, 2009

Analysis: preliminary research

As preliminary preparation for the studio work we discussed general locations for the project. In this research report we also included, to us fundamentally important, ideas on how to form a choerent methodology that will work within the general field of post-disaster redevelopment.

Provided is a .pdf with our conclusions:

Preliminary report on India and Bangladesh (.pdf, 2.6MB)


Blogging in Bengali

This weblog is part of the Urban Emergencies network. Six groups of three students from the TU Delft faculty of Architecture will research post-disaster urban redevelopment in different developing countries.
Through this log we will document the progress of our research, first hand from Bangladesh. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have!

Diederik, Laura & Magnus