Webinar 3 | Cities in Transition: Preserving our Past, Building for the Future

Event Details

  • Date:

Date: Saturday, 20th March 2021

Time: Lisbon 12:00 noon | Washington DC 8:00 am | Melbourne 11:00 pm | Dhaka 6:00 pm

Live stream:

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/contextbd



Cities, hosting a complex mix of old and new artifacts, are soaked in memories and meanings. However, the wrecking ball of accelerating urban development is continued to be a global challenge in protecting city’s historical icons. So-called development projects have become the threats to the cities’ heritage and landmarks that are strongly associated with people’s memory and image of the city. Dhaka, for instance, the capital of Bangladesh has more than 400 years of rich history with many iconic buildings and memorable places having both tangible and intangible heritage values. Along with country’s soaring economy, the new urban infrastructures are invading the places of aging buildings and have given rise to heated debate. More specifically, it raises questions such as how can we rebuild our city without taking away its past? Or, how old and new can coexist while regenerating a city? How to preserve the memories and identities of a place in our city that was created in association with landmarks?

The overarching goal of this event is to raise public awareness by engaging people and built-environment professionals through creative activities and critical discussions. The event also coincides with the occasion of 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence.

Sketch courtesy: Shajjad Hossain © CONTEXT


Opening remarks:

Saimum Kabir | Editor, CONTEXT



Samik Waiz | General Secretary,  Bangladeshi Architects in Australia (BaA)


Session1: Our Past Matters | 40 min

Theme: Protection of Cultural Heritage: Global Perspectives

[ Key topics: Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage, Heritage in Urban Identity, Collective Memory, Regeneration & Placemaking, Global Strategies and Good practices]


Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage in a given city express and embody popular memories of the city through a complex interplay of production, consumption, re-construction, interpretation and diverse tactics of remembrance. The collective and mass memory associated with these places and buildings in a continuously changing time-space matrix offers us an Urban Identity and scope of placemaking. This holds a strong tie to the ingenuity of a nation which is inevitable to keep track into the continuously changing cultures of cities (1) and keep away from identity crisis. That is why our past matters. Since cities like Dhaka are going through a phase of re-development and transformation in the context of globalization and time-space compression, the process of re-imagining city spaces and places deserves careful consideration which absolutely includes the protection of cultural heritage, following global strategies and good practices.


Filipe Themudo Barata | Professor, and UNESCO CHAIR, Intangible Cultural Heritage, University of Evora, Portugal

Nigar Reza | Architect-Planner, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Australia

Dr. Mizanur Rashid | Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, Australia

Dr. Sajid Bin Doza | Head & Assoc. Professor, State University-Bangladesh and AGS, Institute of Architects Bangladesh


Session2: Challenged Present of the treasured Past | 40 min

Theme: Built Heritage in Bangladesh Context

[ Key topics: Protection of Archaeological and Modern Heritage, National Policy and Impact on Urban Heritage, Methods in Practice and Challenges]


While we observe the intensification of urban growth in Bangladesh context, safeguarding efforts to valuable cultural heritage assets have not been mainstreamed into the overall urban planning and development framework (2). Many of the city’s heritage, yet to survive invasion, holds spirit of festivities, traditions and communities as well as lay footprints of built heritage and intangible heritage. With ongoing urbanization at an unprecedented scale, the urban fabric is under consistent pressure of modernization and transformation (3), leading to the continuous disappearance of cultural heritage elements as well as the depreciation of a sense of place and belonging to city. The scenario becomes more acute when stakeholders like elected people, local leaders bother less about the value of these heritage buildings and their cultural context. The factors frequenting more behind “challenged present of the treasured past”- perhaps include inadequate management plans, legislative and regulatory frameworks, social cohesion and community connectivity, biased political and economic interest to safeguard both intangible and tangible assets of urban heritage. Therefore, conserving historic urban environments is currently one of the most globally crucial and challenging cultural heritage conservation issues. National Policy for protection of archaeological and Modern Heritage as well as practice, in reality, have a huge impact on urban heritage[1] which deserve utmost attention at the moment.



Adnan Morshed | Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, The Catholic University of America

Abu Sayeed Ahmed | Professor and Dean, The University of Asia Pacific

Homaira Zaman | Head, Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University


A Photographic Expedition to Archeological sites in Bangladesh | Hashin ur Reza Chanchal


Session3: The Future of the Past | 20 min

Theme: Way Forward: Beyond Preservation

[Key topics: Adaptive Reuse; Sustainable Heritage Management; Institutional Advocacy; Governance and Civic Society Participation]


SDGs of United Nations give light to the growing consensus that the future of our societies will be decided in urban areas of which culture plays a key role. The sustainable management of heritage buildings, sites and its cultural context, is going through a process of change both in theory and practice, from focusing on isolated built heritage assets, towards a landscape-based approach (adopted by UNESCO as HUL). The 2016 United Nations new urban agenda recognizes both tangible and intangible heritage as a significant factor in developing vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive urban economies(4)and heritage management, combining policies and practices on conservation[2]. Beyond preservation and conservation, while cities are in transformation the way forward lies into activism of integrating individual buildings, monuments, special areas, cultural diversity and social inclusion to one another that are part of a process of change which has been reflected to HUL approach by prioritizing Adaptive Reuse, Sustainable Heritage Management, Institutional Advocacy, Governance and Civic Society Participation. If the lack of “structured approaches” is weakness, it can be considered as an opportunity too. How about locally defined participatory processes that promote the diverse transformation of cultural heritage? How about stimulating a future cultural identity by the inclusive development of the past (urban heritage) experiencing both material (tangible) and socio-psychological (intangible) aspects?



Prof. Filipe Themudo Barata, Prof. Adnan Morshed, Prof. Abu Sayed Ahmed, Nigar Reza, Homaira Zaman, Dr. Mizanur Rashid & Dr. Sajid Bin Doza


Q n A and Concluding remarks: 

Shajjad Hossain | PhD Researcher, University of Évora, Portugal



Samik Waiz 



Saif Sadequl and Protyasha Paul  


Comments and Questions:  You can send your questions in advance by email to myquestion2020@gmail.com . Facilitators will collect the questions for the panel and ask.

Works cited:

  1. Bélanger, A. (2002). URBAN SPACE AND COLLECTIVE MEMORY: ANALYSING THE VARIOUS DIMENSIONS OF THE PRODUCTION OF MEMORY. Canadian Journal of Urban Research,11(1), 69-92. Retrieved February 13, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44320695
  2. The UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (Report of the Second Consultation on its Implementation by Member States, 2019 UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  3. Karlström A. (2014) Urban Heritage. In: Smith C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1137
  4. Veldpaus, Loes & Pereira Roders, Ana. (2013). Urban Heritage: Putting the Past into the Future. The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice. 4. 3-18. 10.1179/1756750513Z.00000000022.