Adaptability in Interior Space: Public Housing for Lower-Middle Income Group in Dhaka

Main Article Content

Issue Vol. 6 No. 1 (2023)
Published Jan 30, 2023
Section Articles
Article downloads 386
Submitted : Sep 26, 2022 | Accepted : Dec 20, 2022

Dilruba Yasmin Farida Nilufar


This research examines the spatial characteristics of domestic spaces, their use, and adaptations to analyse their changing morphology. It also examines inhabitants' preferences and requirements for the functional utilisation of the interiority of dwellings. Fifteen apartments in Dhaka were analysed to compare the initial design with the later modifications by occupants. The research followed an ethnographical method to depict the lives and experiences of individuals. The research has identified significant changes in activity zoning and their pattern, thus creating a new spatial organisation of the house that is different from the original design. Activity analysis reveals that most spaces are multipurpose; moreover, maintaining segregation and privacy is challenging. Lack of privacy is a significant concern during the alterations. Households are usually the extended type with a large number of members. Hence, this research finds the need for extra rooms within the given space. Another reason for alterations is the need for adequate functional space. A discrepancy exists between the dwelling space design and the actual needs and preferences of the occupants. This discrepancy highlights gaps between the designer's solution and the user demand, which prompts adjustments in the aspirations of the house through modifications and adaptations.

Keywords: domestic space morphology, spatial organisation, space use pattern, alteration, adaptation

Article Details

How to Cite
Yasmin, D., & Nilufar, F. (2023). Adaptability in Interior Space: Public Housing for Lower-Middle Income Group in Dhaka. Interiority, 6(1), 115–136.
Author Biographies

Dilruba Yasmin, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Dhaka University of Engineering & Technology, Gazipur, Bangladesh

Dilruba Yasmin is an architect and educator in Bangladesh. She is currently an assistant professor at the Department of Architecture, Dhaka University of Engineering & Technology, Gazipur. Yasmin completed her B. Arch from Khulna University, Bangladesh and M. Arch from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at The University of Hong Kong. Besides different research works, Yasmin has parallel involvement in professional projects. She specialises in domestic architecture for limited-income groups and is particularly interested in architectural heritage. She also is affiliated with the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB).

Farida Nilufar, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh

Farida Nilufar is a Professor of Architecture at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). She served as Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning and Head of the Department of Architecture at BUET. She had her Ph.D. from University College London (UCL) in 1997. Her research focuses on urban morphology, urban design and landscape, water urbanism, architectural morphology, building type, and domestic architecture. Her investigations involving Space Syntax have revealed the spatial character of Dhaka city. She has been involved in the International Scientific Board of Water Urbanism, a cahier on Urbanism (Belgium); she also served an Architectural Journal Protibesh (BUET) in the editorial role. She has been working on curriculum development and accreditation for architectural education. She worked as a consultant for Regional Development Plan (RDP) for Dhaka City and was an expert member for urban design and site planning for detail area planning of Dhaka City.


Agyefi-Mensah, S., Post, J. M., Egmond, L., Van, E. L. C., Erkelens, P. A., & Badu, E. (2010). Adaptable and flexible design solutions to the spatial quality of public apartment buildings in Ghana: A research agenda. In S. Laryea, R. Leiringer, & W. Hughes (Eds.), Proceedings of West Africa Built Environment Research (WABER) Conference (pp. 51–62). University of Reading.

Baldwin, E., & Tomita, S. (2007). Housing in response to the human life cycle. In W. C. Mann (Ed.), Aging, disability, and independence (pp. 1–17). IOS Press. 

Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes, and Settlement. (2019, February 19). The future of housing in Bangladesh. The Daily Star.

Brunson, L., Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (2001). Resident appropriation of defensible space in public housing: Implications for safety and community. Environment and Behavior, 33(5), 626–652.

Bruyns, G. (2018). Tactical interiority; Hong Kong's "lived" interiors as praxis for tactical living in high-density landscapes. Interiors, 9(3), 346–371.

Bullen, P. A. (2007). Adaptive reuse and sustainability of commercial buildings. Facilities, 25(1/2), 20–31.

Chowdhury, M. Z. S. (2013). The housing affordability problems of the middle-income groups in Dhaka: A policy environment analysis [Doctoral dissertation, The University of Hong Kong]. HKU Scholars Hub.

Dassah, E. (2011). An examination of the relationship between spatial morphology and residential satisfaction in residential settings in Garki, Abuja [Master's thesis, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology]. KNUSTSpace.

de Jong, T. M. & van der Voordt, D. J. M. (Eds.). (2002). Ways to study and research: Urban, architectural, and technical design. DUP Science.

Douglas, J. (2006). Building adaptation (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods, 18(1), 59–82.

Hanson, J. (1998). Decoding homes and houses. Cambridge University Press.

Hillier, B. (2007). Space is the machine: A configurational theory of architecture. Space Syntax.

Hillier, B., Hanson, J., & Peponis, J. (1984). What do we mean by building function? In J. A. Powell, I. Cooper, & S. Lera (Eds.), Designing for building utilisation (pp. 61–72). E & F. N. Spon Ltd.

Imamuddin, A. H. (1982). Bengali house in urban context. BUET Technical Journal.

Islam, Z. (2003). High-rise residential development in Dhaka City: Evolution of the new form [Master's thesis, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology]. BUET Institutional Repository.

Khan, F. A. U. (1999). Study of colonial architecture in Bangladesh [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Dhaka.

Lawson, R. M., & Ogden, R. G. (2006). Hybrid systems in light steel and modular construction. International Conference on Adaptable Building Structures, 3, 252–256.

Machado, S. R. (2004). Personalization in affordable housing (Publication No. 8893211) [Master's thesis, Dalhousie University]. Scientific Electronic Library.

McGowan, J. M. (2011). Field/work practice: Introduction. In S. Ewing, J. M. McGowan, C. Speed, & V. C. Bernie (Eds.), Architecture and field/work (pp. 7–10). Routledge.

Ministry of Housing and Public Works. (1992). Bangladesh allocation rules 1982

Monteiro, C. G. (1997). Activity analysis in houses of Recife, Brazil. Proceedings of First International Space Syntax Symposium, 2, 20.1–20.14.

Omata, K. (1992). Spatial organization of activities of Japanese families. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 12(3), 259–267.

Opu, M. H. (2022, January 14). Dhaka ranks world's sixth most populous city. Dhaka Tribune.

Pink, S. (2009). Doing sensory ethnography. Sage Publications.

Rashid, M. U. (2000). Contemporary walk-up house form in Dhaka: Study of its evolution [Master's thesis, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology]. BUET Institutional Repository.

Rooney, N. (2003). At home with density. Hong Kong University Press.

Saha, P. R. (2006). Study of open spaces in government housing in Dhaka City [Master's thesis, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology]. BUET Institutional Repository.

Septanti, D. (2015). Functionality and adaptability of coastal low-income houses in Java Indonesia (Publication No. 797555) [Doctoral dissertation, Eindhoven University of Technology]. Technische Universiteit Eindhoven.

Shabin, N. (1997). Search for regional contents in the contemporary urban residential architecture of Dhaka City [Master's thesis, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology]. BUET Institutional Repository.

Tipple, G., Coulson, J., & Kellett, P. W. (2002). The effects of home-based enterprises on the residential environment in developing countries. In S. Romaya & C. Rakodi (Eds.), Building Sustainable Urban Settlements: Approaches and Case Studies in the Developing World (62–76). ITDG Publishing.

Ukoha, O. M., & Beamish, J. O. (1997). Assessment of residents' satisfaction with public housing in Abuja, Nigeria. Habitat International, 21(4), 445–460.

URBANET. (2022, March 10). Infographics: Urbanisation and urban development in Bangladesh.

Zeisel, J. (1984). Inquiry by design: Tools for environment-behaviour research. Cambridge University Press.