Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chittagong: space syntax

During our stay in Chittagong, we mapped the (slightly oversized) city in the space syntax software. It took us some time to make sure there were no bugs in the connections, and to do the right analyses following the courses of Akkie. Currently we are looking at ways to incorporate the different outcomes with other maps, to make some conclusions regarding the relation between connectivity and other (emergency) variables. For instance, we are trying to find out the exact locations of cyclone shelters to link them with the connectivity. You can see both the local and global integrations below. Click on the "Read more" link for some topics of interest.

The following information is done verbally. We will also make some graphs and diagrams to show what we mean later.

City center: we can see some subtle differences between the local and global integrations. One of these is the city center that is visible as a white cloud just northwest of the middle (right image). This correlates with the current situation in Chittagong. The main livelihood is focused around the CDA Avenue, the long street from northeast to the south (dock) that is visible on the left image (local integration).

Linear livelihoods: it is interesting to see the linear patterns in the local integration. One might expect little clouds that function as local centers of livelihood. In the image, however, one can clearly see the linear forms. Please zoom in on the left image to see how the spaces between these linear centers are filled with a maze of smaller streets. The connectivity is quickly reduced. This follows our experience in the city (and other cities in Bangladesh): most activity spreads out in a linear way. The smaller streets often feel as a maze. Most motorcycle rickshaw drivers will not know all these streets either, they will just know the name of the main streets and the region names.

Bridge: looking at the left image with the local integration, one can see a circular roadway going through the city. This is the main CDA Avenue and its extensions: towards the southwest it goes to the port area (also visible as white cloud in the global integration), while it leads to the main bridge towards the southeast. Since we have not added the areas on the other side of the river (not part of Chittagong city), this road becomes less visible towards this bridge on the global integration image. It is, however, very clearly visible on the local integration. And we have indeed experienced how lively this street is. 

Airport area gap: on the southwest peninsula there is an airport. Around this area there used to be a great slum. During the 1991 cyclone, 3000 people died in this area. There has been little informal redevelopment since. It is interesting to see that this area is not very well connected on the local or global level, even though the city is thinking of making a big ring road around the river and see banks along a raised embankment. This road seems odd. It might increase the connectivity of the peninsula, but these regions are very prone to flooding and cyclones. As a counter reaction, the city corporation is planting mangrove forests to protect the embankment and people living behind it.

Development: the city has grown mostly towards the north, around the hilly areas. It is interesting to see how the old port area (middle, south) is both connected locally as globally. It is the old heart of the city. The livelihoods have slowly moved towards the north (the current white cloud center). We can also see new projects towards the north, that appear to be well connected. Again, a linear livelihood is visible.

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