|Studio Master:||Kanu Kumar Das, Shajib Paul | Supervisor: Amit Imtiaz|
|University:||Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology|
The project rethinks the abandoned stone-mine field of Bholagonj Ropeway area which lies on the foothill of Meghalayan-hills. The area now consists of 3 land chunks: 1. White Stone Zero Point (no intervention border area), 2. An Abandoned Ropeway Station Island (Site B) and 3. An Abandoned Quarry Brownfield with Ghat 10 (Site A). The proposal offers an engaging sightseeing experience by connecting these sites where visitors can reconnect with the industrial and geological heritage of the site as well as get aware of local and global issues. Guided through multiple destination points, visitors can have a memorable journey that reveals an untold story of the site.
The journey begins with the Visitor Center located in an existing quarry pit. The next destination point is a stone-observatory cum amphitheater where visitors can see the variations in the stone deposit levels in the flood shed during different seasons. Ghat-10 will remind the visitors of the true local context of the site where boatmen act as custodians of the River Dholai. Visitors can also closely observe the Iron Towers of the Ropeway, a unique industrial heritage before they set out for the boat journey to explore site B. When visitors arrive at site B, they will be enthralled by the site’s industrial history. The abandoned ropeway is converted into a cable car route. The abandoned Ansar Camp (an old industrial building) is given public use by removing walls and exposing its frame structure. From here, visitors can take boats to reach their final destination, White Stone Zero Point to witness the last remaining vast sheet of exposed white sandstone layer.
For landscaping, indigenous plants were given priority. Since most of the site is contaminated, phytoremediation with Vetiver (a local plant) is proposed. Different seasonal plants are used to respond to different water levels for productive landscapes and afforestation for lost riparian bio-diversity regeneration at the final stage. Thus, site A will act like a geo-tourism park, and site B as an island park positively responding to the river.
Concrete is used as a core building material to keep the industrial traces alive and for earth-quack resistance. Since the master plan focuses on a horizontal journey immersed in the landscape, the proposed Visitor Centre, the only and main built intervention in the master plan, focuses on vertical movement. In the museum section, different exhibition galleries of the material evolution are placed at different levels of the existing quarry pit within which the building embeds itself. Tunnels and sky-lit sunken galleries provide a metaphorical experience of moving within a dark stone mine. Visiting them, tourists can learn about the reckless consumption of natural resources (stones, sand, etc.) for the industrial production of concrete, glass, etc. which pose a great threat to natural systems. The other programs include an entrance shed, café, tourist accommodation, etc.
The building is off-grid, solar-run and has a submerged organic waste treatment plant producing fertilizers that can be reused for the park vegetation. In conclusion, the project brings an abandoned quarry back from the brink of oblivion, tells the heinous tale of resource extraction, and reconnects tourists with natural phenomena and splendour.