DELTA FORCE: New Cartographies of the Sundarbans Alternative Design Concepts for Khulnâ & Environs

  • Ward Verbakel OSA, KU Leuven (Belgium)
  • Dr. Kelly Shannon Department of Architecture, Urbanism and Planning KU Leuven (Belgium)


The territory of southwest Bangladesh has recently been through trials and travails – from the process of deindustrialization to devastation in the wake of Cyclone Sidr. A state of uncertainty hovers over the region as jute mills
close in Khulna, Mongla port has yet to take off and the frequency and severity of natural calamities appears to be on
the rise. The resilience of the region is being tested as future scenarios are debated. Meanwhile, large-scale
investment in infrastructure proceeds as the Southern Bypass and Rupsa Bridge have been completed and there is
discussion of new airports and a second bypass in the vicinity of Khulna. A new master plan is being developed for the
Jessore-Khulna-Mongla region while the Khulna Development Authority and Khulna City Corporation struggle for
political buoyancy amidst the nation-wide corruption crackdown. Strategic intervention in the larger territory is
compounded further by the contestations amongst a multitude of ministries and over-lapping jurisdictions. Traditional
master-planning is incapable of reconciling the complex relationships at play in this territory. This article presents an
alternative design approach – a new series of projective cartographies – for simultaneous operation at the larger
regional scale, the city scale and the local scale.