Mayeesha Tasneem, a young professional architect from Bangladesh, recently graduated from the Department of Architecture, at BRAC University in Bangladesh and currently working as an architect at an architectural consultancy firm in Dhaka.
Mayeesha says "Art, culture, music, and participatory architecture are my fields of interest. I like going to new places to learn about different places and their context, culture, tradition, and lifestyle. Diversity in these fields and the way they are manifest in food, mood, colour, and architecture, intrigues me. I try to contextualize the knowledge gathered through travelling and merge this with my personal and professional activities. I believe the lessons that are gained through experience are the ones that resonate the most. One of the ideals I try to live by is a quotation by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe... "I don't want to be interesting; I want to be good." That is why I want to avail every learning opportunity life can offer and put these lessons to good purpose."
An extract from Mayeesha's portfolio project can be seen here. Its solution-focused relevance to the environment of the Venice lagoon, rising sea levels, and emerging social issues impressed the panel of judges.
Mayeesha Tasneem Project
As an architect, what is more important – protecting the environment or providing social justice? This project argues that there can be a middle ground for reconciliation and mutually beneficial integration of a slum and urban lake.

With 200,000 inhabitants, Karail is the largest slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. There's always a more or less threat of eviction in these informal settlements. But at present, Karail is on the verge of an uncertain future. It has been growing by filling up the adjacent lake with trash and building settlement on it. adjacent lake with trash and building settlement on it.

The restricted flow of water poses a flood risk for upstream communities. Also, as the lake is used to discharge waste, the lake has become heavily polluted causing severe environmental concerns. Now the government is moving ahead with a 'lake redevelopment project', which will evict around 25,000 households of the settlement.

As much as the reason behind revitalizing the water-channel and aspiration for a clean and healthy environment is logical, is evicting the dwellers away from their source of livelihood a sensible solution? If not, then how to achieve both? That is what I have tried to answer. The design process looked both at the capacity of the dwellers to build their houses and the ways soft engineering and landscape elements could be used to restore the lake.

The simple concept was to create a perforated elevated platform which acts as a new ground for new construction, while the lake is excavated back to full capacity to allow water flow back to full capacity to allow water flow.

The insitu rehabilitation, cleaning and re-accommodation process can be operated simultaneously. According to the proposed urban framework, almost 75% of people can be re-accommodated on-site. The proposal is not to build at once, but rather, to start with a pilot scheme to show the local inhabitants.

The government builds only the basic infrastructure on top of which the inhabitants build their houses with the materials and techniques they are used to. This floating infrastructural base collects sewage, provides service connections but does not dictate the final form of the settlement.

The system spares adequate area for uninterrupted water-channel, and spaces for water courtyards to restrict the water to be covered up completely. As soon as the base infrastructure system has started to be built, ecological methods of cleaning the polluted water can start, with floating gardens, introducing selected microorganisms and fishing. The community can be employed and involved in the water purification process, which only serves to increase the sense of ownership.

If the Government lets the inhabitants live here, rather than evicting them, they can be brought under particular urban codes like any other citizen. To restrict them from trashing the lake again, waste recycling stations are integrated with the floating base infrastructure, which allows the dwellers to treat it as a resource.

This synergy between dwellers-waste-lake can ensure the co-existence of an urban lake system within a slum and benefit each other.

Phone: +39 328 858 6087
Castello 6668, 30122 Venice (VE)