|Studio Master:||Mashudur Rahman Fahim; Advisor: Sarah Bashneen Suchona, Tauqir Mahmood|
|University:||Stamford University Bangladesh (SUB)|
Globally, there are about 195 countries and 270 nationalities. Each nationality has their own characteristics and ways to lead their lives. These unique characteristics depend on those nation’s heritage, culture, social life, literature, anthropology, art, architecture and many other socio-cultural aspects. Now, how have we come to know about these unique characteristics and ways of our life? At the beginning of all life, we were in the fight for survival as a species. Through evolution, humans have learnt how to survive and thrive as social beings. A sense of belief has eventually grown. Those beliefs continuously transformed into many ways of social construction and many methods of life. Today’s human society is largely depending on the social structures they’ve inherited from the past. In the context of accelerating pressure for development, Bangladesh needs to be sensitive to its cultural heritage. Archaeology, being one of the most important parts of cultural heritage, needs to be protected and conserve.
The project is right beside Shalban Vihara at Mainamati, Comilla, Bangladesh. Mainamati is an isolated ridge of low hills in the eastern margins of deltaic Bangladesh, about 8 km to the west of Comilla town is a very familiar name in our cultural heritage, where archaeological excavations have revealed very significant artefacts. The principal monument is the Shalban Vihara, which is the main interest here.
There are about 55 scattered ancient remains of settlements from the 8th – 12th Century AD known as Mainamati, Lalmai are located throughout the Comilla district. The Shaban Vihara is in the middle of the Mainamati range and consists of 115 small rooms. Excavations have continued since 1955, and items such as copper plates, gold and silver coins, and more than 150 bronze statues have been found. The largest number of stone sculptures and terra-cotta plaques were found in Comilla’s archaeological sites, representing Bengal and the sub-continent.
The main objective of this project is to signify the importance of this vihara and conserve its territorial area. The proposed site is just beside the monument. Therefore, a deliberate attempt was taken to go underground as it would not overpower the 1300 years old ancient structure. Again, archaeology deals with unearthing monuments that have been concealed within. From that perspective, it does add credibility to the thought that digging inside the earth will recreate an experience that will allow the visitors to have a deeper realization and of course a sense of discovery. The main complex has two parts; one is the museum, which is the main part, and for public use. And the other part is the research centre and dorm for the research employees. The design vision is to recreate the ambience where archaeologists work and how those artefacts or physical remains were originally discovered. So, a walk for reconciliation path is proposed which is the main spine of the project and the whole museum part. This path is right up to the excavation research ground so common people have the chance to know about both the excavated remains and the research formulas. The ground level on a certain part of the site is lowered, so that visitors get the opportunity to experience the beautiful topography of Mainamati, Comilla.