The Dhaka North City Corporation's initiative to beautify the capital using toilet tiles ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup cricket would spoil the cityscape and wrongly represent the country, said eminent architects.
With some private advertising firms, the DNCC is doing up the central reservations of some important roads with concrete structures removing ornamental plants, saplings and guardrails.
The project would cost around Tk 4.5 crore.
Advertising firm Vinyl World Group is beautifying the airport road central reservation stretching from Jahangir Gate to Kakoli intersection. Similar work is being carried out on Rokeya Sarani, Sony Cinema intersection in Mirpur and Gulshan by other firms.
The waist-high zigzag brick walls clad with glazing toilet and kitchen tiles in the middle of the roads will only offer a clumsy and disgusting view, said Mubasshar Hussein, former president of Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB).
Images of some national literary figures with inscriptions on stones would be showcased on concrete structures, he said, adding that it was unfathomable how people would view and read those in the middle of an extremely busy road.
According to Mubasshar, "Such beautification does not demonstrate any sense of aesthetics and technical competence, nor is it relevant to the spirit of the cricket world cup tournament."
The city corporation should have awarded the sensitive job through a competitive process, as people do not know how competent the advertising firms were for such a large-scale facelift, he said.
Prof Md Shamsul Hoque of transport engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology said this kind of structures on central reservations may distract drivers raising chances for accidents.
Mamoon Murshed Chowdhury, assistant general secretary of IAB, termed the initiative tasteless and devoid of aesthetic standard.
"It is like showing dirty linen to the public and giving the impression that the country lacks educated people," he said.
For a country with warm and humid weather like Bangladesh, plantation and greenery would be the best suitable elements for beautification, he suggested.
Noted artist Hashem Khan said aesthetic sense is the foremost concern in beautification and it can be achieved by involving landscape architects, historians, urban planners and painters.
IAB president Abu Sayeed M Ahmed in a press release on Wednesday demanded the government immediately stop the facelift and call for an advisory body comprising representatives from professional bodies, Institute of Fine Arts, urban designers and landscape architects.
Capt Bipan Kumar Saha, DNCC waste management and beautification officer, said the city corporation along with the advertising firms had prepared the do-up design.
Asked why they had uprooted the plants and saplings in the name of beautification, he claimed that those had recently been chopped down by miscreants.
"We are proceeding with the work as we feel appropriate," said Bipan, adding, "I am not supposed to answer all your questions. You can report whatever you wish."
Abaib Monsur, chief executive of Vinyl World Group, said their sister concern Shishir Bindu Media Production had prepared the beautification design along with filmmakers and engineers.
It would display images of national heroes, archaeological sites and historical events on stones and there would be some imported plants alongside commercial advertisement, he said.
On their experience, Abaib said they had so far beautified some central reservations in Sylhet and built a lotus sculpture at Jahangirnagar University. However, they mainly do interior design and outdoor advertisement, he added.
Three months ago, the DNCC inked a five-year contract with Vinyl for the city facelift.
Abaib said Vinyl would require Tk 3 crore for its part of the job while the other firms around Tk 1.5 crore.