Outfall Children Playground and Community Centre is a dot of a place nestled inside the Government Housing Quarter in Maniknagar, Dhaka. The project stemmed from one primary intention of looking at a neighbourhood and thinking of something that adds a positive value for the community and overlapping generations. Designed by Salauddin Ahmed and his Atelier Robin Architects team, the place builds a sense of a community for the people residing in the area.
The 11600 sqft (approx) size of the project does not justify in any way for the large residence of the housing blocks. For a total of 140 families, the scale of the project offered little rooms for all the young, restless boys and girls, who crave for an open playground within the compound. “Luckily, Golapbagh playground is not too far from the housing compound. Hence, there is a sense of relief; but truth is, Dhaka needs one too many public spaces and playgrounds for her inhabitants, especially the young generation. May they be large or small in scale, every inch of public space addition is a blessing in disguise. Without balanced public and private spaces, a city can turn its back toward her citizens and in the long run, can make the city a difficult place to be. Dhaka is very much on that negative zoning luck of no public spaces and growing to be a difficult landscape to grasp,” explains Ar Salauddin.
To relief this pressure on ‘not haves’, the Outfall Children Playground gives a glimmer of hope for many residence children within the compound. In both the playground and the community building, the design approach was simple and straightforward. In addition, a proposal for a Community Plaza, a Library for the young minds, Girls’ Friendly spaces and a rooftop Butterfly Garden was made. These residual spaces support the main space with a positive note and offer rooms to those who did not ask for them. The place stands for the hope of sustaining with tenacity and perseverance and offering a sense of place for the residence and its communities beyond.
If one takes a walk around its playground, a serpent-like mosaic will lead the person to discover all its offered variety.
The structure and the materials that put together the building are conventional ones, comprising posts and columns. Walls as skin are made out of locally handmade bricks. There are no attempts to bring unnecessary architectural tactics or languages for the end-users. Its simple white walls and clear lines are as symbolic as it can be to reflect an imbedded meaning of truth and simplicity. Large windows as opening allow natural light and air to ventilate the building and establish with assurance its sustainability and environmental accountability. If one takes a walk around its playground, a serpent-like mosaic will lead the person to discover all its offered variety. In some ways, the architecture of the building guide the users and allow them to discover at their leisure and convenience. The construction period of the project extended from January 2018 to December 2019.
Sharing his experience in designing the Outfall, Ar Salauddin enthused, “To design and execute this project as governmental work, has been a learning curve.
To relief this pressure on ‘not haves’, the Outfall Children Playground gives a glimmer of hope for many residence children within the compound.
To my surprise, the bureaucratic process and at times antithetical views to do good for the society at large from the government side, I was happy to be a part of the whole process of design and construction. I did not expect but the project got what it wished for. So, the lesson to be shared with the rest would be- be at it and never take things for granted. You just have to work hard and believe you can do it. Rest is perhaps luck”.
Its simple white walls and clear lines are as symbolic as it can be to reflect an imbedded meaning of truth and simplicity.
Ar. Salauddin Ahmed is a contemporary architect in Bangladesh. He is the founder of Atelier Robin Architects, a renowned architectural firm in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He holds the Principal Architect’s position in the practice and has been the driving force in running a 12 person’s office since 2001. Some of his notable projects include Karim Residence in Bashundhara, Ishtiaq Residence in Nikunja, Head Office of Concern Worldwide in Gulshan, Cafe Mango etc. Salauddin Ahmed is also the director of Curatorial and Design Program at Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements.