Selected Entries 2019

Anughotak - Reviving the Lost Heritage of Mainamati

Faiyaz Hasnain Khan
Department of Architecture, BRAC University  | Dhaka

‘Identity’ can be approached in numerous ways, and an important feature of architecture is that it bears identification of the people and culture it stands for. Architecture serves as a credential, and from the identity perspective, has been representing the thoughts of its own people by creating distinctive architectures in various periods and locations (Torabi and Brahman, 2013 p. 106).
However, architecture does exist to cater one of the most basic human needs for survival. But in doing so, architecture tells stories, entrenches memories, interprets and helps us understand history, and thereby contributes in large measure to the very fabric of a place. Following the destruction of Britain’s Commons Chamber during World War II, Winston Churchill famously said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.” Indeed, the spaces we inhabit play a significant role in molding us as individuals, whether it be in the home or workplace.
At the national level, in the African context, countries are bound to their colonial pasts most visibly by their architectural makeup. A big part of a previously colonized country’s identity is intertwined with its colonial history, and one could say the buildings still in existence are the memories of that painful past.
Similarly, Bangladesh is young as a state but its land, people and culture are stepped in history, the cultural heritage of Bangladesh reflecting the creative genius of the people was enriched by the great Buddhist civilizations that flourished in the region of well over two millennia. We can watch about 1200 to 1300 years of past history throughout the archaeological heritage site of Mainamati, Paharpur, Mahasthangarh. Among these, around 50 scattered archeological sites being discovered in and around of Mainamati in Comilla Division. From Khadgas to Devas, many rulers lived but left us little to draw a picture out of it. The rich architectural and cultural heritage of our country is struggling to retain its existence in the rapidly developing Bangladesh.
In such situation, the design effort was to bring back the past glory or glorious identity through architectural intervention as a trainee in this discipline. The site was selected near the Mainamati Shalban Vihara, which is the largest national heritage (8th-12th century, Buddhist monastery) in Comilla, Bangladesh. Therefore, the hypothesis was generated as “Reviving the lost heritage in Mainamati through architectural intervention” for the thesis proposal. Through five months long research endeavour a conclusion was drawn to install a memory institution as architectural intervention which will eventually promote cultural values and heritage awareness. Thus, connecting the people to their very own identity.