© Syed Zakir Hossain
Under Threat: Dhaka University’s TSC building
By Constantinos Doxiadis, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1960s

Docomomo International became aware by Docomomo Greece that Dhaka University’s TSC building, Dhaka, Bangladesh, designed by Constantinos Doxiadis in the early 1960s, is under threat due to a current proposal that means its demolition and replacement by a new multi-story structure. This is recently the second Modern Movement masterpiece in Dhaka that is under high risk to be demolished – also the Kamalapur Railway Station, designed by Daniel Dunham and Robert Boughey for Berger Consulting, 1961-1968 is in danger of being demolished (see heritage in danger).

Unexpected by students, alumni, and residents of Dhaka, the historical Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) “- a universally admired centre in relation to the country’s student politics and cultural life – will soon be demolished to be rebuilt into a modern structure ahead of the university’s birth centenary celebrations in 2021.”

“TSC is the work of legendary Greek architect and planner Constantinos Apostolos Doxiadis. The mastermind behind planning the city of Islamabad, Doxiadis was also the founder of Ekistics, a school of thought that concerns the science of human settlements, including regional, city, community planning and dwelling design. He designed TSC in the early 1960s. The adjacent building was later constructed as part of the so-called Decade of Development (1958-68) of the then Pakistani regime.

The structure exemplifies a modernist architectural sensitivity toward spatial needs for tropical climatic conditions. It blends local parameters of space-making — particularly the indoor-outdoor continuum and generation of space around courtyards — with international-style visual expression of building forms. TSC’s dome-shaped structure is considered an iconic landmark not only inside DU campus, but in the broader cityscape of Dhaka. It has been home to countless students who show up between or after classes for a cup of tea with friends, and holds immense nostalgic value for them on top of being a historically significant site.

Public Works Department (PWD) of the government has already begun the process of rebuilding TSC after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 2 ordered the authorities concerned to modernise Dhaka Medical College Hospital, TSC, and public library.

The new facility will also include rehearsal rooms for cultural activities, a gymnasium, rooms with modern facilities for TSC-based socio-cultural groups, indoor games room, separate cafeteria, teachers’ lounge, three basements for vehicle parking, guest house and more.
The government’s move to rebuild TSC has garnered criticism from teachers, students and academicians who opined that an establishment like TSC should be kept intact considering its association with significant moments in the university’s history and the day-to-day lives of students. The plan to rebuild TSC makes no mention of how the community of students, citizens and vendors around the area will be affected by the reconstruction. The move to demolish the existing TSC structure came soon after a similar decision was made regarding Kamalapur Railway Station. This year, multiple heritage buildings in the old part of Dhaka were demolished as well.”

In this context, as Docomomo International did regarding the Kamalapur Railway Station, Docomomo International is raising attention to stop the planned demolition of the TSC building as its demolition would mean an irreversible loss not only of an architectural masterpiece, but also of an important social-cultural-political building of Dhaka and “a beloved symbol of the city.”

Some articles about this heritage in danger have been published on The Daily Star (article 1 and article 2) and on Dhaka Tribune (article 1).