Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 48, Tuesday December 11, 2007




the arch

Dhaka as a city is almost 400 years old. On the north bank of Buriganga known as Dhakabazu, Nawab Islam Khan commissioned his capital in 1608 AD. Since then Dhaka flourished as a city on the banks of the river and grew mostly northwards. Today, Dhaka is experiencing drastic urbanisation. Long gone are the single unit houses, rapidly replaced by multistoried appartments.

Yet in some sections of the city, particulary old Dhaka, landmark buildings like the Ahsan Manzil, Lalbagh Fort and Curzon Hall, Dhaka University, Eden Girl's College and others, retain their Moghul and British architectural influence. One unique architectural feature binds all this buildings in unity- the Arch!

This week, we focus on the arch, a popular architectural form loved by people through out the world. Arches were used by the Persian, Indus Valley, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Assyrian civilizations for underground structures such as drains and vaults, but the ancient Romans were the first to incorporate them into mainstream design. The Roman arch is semicircular, built from an odd number of arch bricks. The Romans used this type of semicircular arch freely in many of their secular structures such as aqueducts, palaces and amphitheaters.

An arch requires all its elements to hold it together. A frame (historically, of wood) is first built which exactly follows the form of the underside of the arch. This is known as a centre or centring. For an arch higher than head height, scaffolding would be required by the builders, so that it can be combined with the arch support. Arches fall down when the frame is removed if construction or planning is incorrect. The interior and lower line or curve of an arch is known as the intrados.

Narayanganj, known as 'The city of Panam', still boasts old hoses with arches. People still visit the historic city of Sonargaon. They are attracted by its immense beauty and by the ruins of buildings and relics that date back to the era of medieval Bengal. The Goaldia Mosque, situated in the Goaldi village is a wonderful example of an ancient Sonargaon building. The Folklore Museum is another attraction- the old windows, doors, stairs and walls with their beautiful ornamental arches till bear our our architectural history.

The arch is such a common form that people chose to embrace it even in interior decor. Care must be taken to use it within proportion. As mentioned before arches require sufficient height, otherwise the effect is spoilt. The arch-shaped entry door or partition wall or wall panelling looks really great.

Interior Consultant
E-mail: journeym@citechco.net
Photo Credit: Aziza Ohida Shireen Runu


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2007 The Daily Star