|Name:||Md Nur Alam Siddiki|
|Studio Master:||Prof. Dr. Qazi Azizul Mowla, Mohammad Yousuf Iqubal Chowdhury, Imamur Hossain, Mainul Karim|
The old Central Jail in Sylhet is more than 200 years old, and was the first jail in Bangladesh. Since its inception in 1889, it has great significance due to its core geographical location with heritage value and as an urban space. After the relocation of central jail, the vacant land left behind, has created a great opportunity for civic life. Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) planned to create an urban park by demolishing all the historic buildings in the area. This thesis project challenges the SCC concept and put forward the idea that the site can be redeveloped as a high performance urban space by conserving the century old urban image of the area while connecting and integrating the jail area with river front, historic core, as well as the surrounding areas. The redeveloped place will have a new look satisfying the local and city level needs of a contemporary vibrant city.Using the historic environment as an asset, and giving it a new life, it will be one of the cornerstones of the economic and social revival of the Sylhet city. Old Central Jail has the potential to play an important role as a catalyst for regeneration of the entire area.
The Sylhet Old Central Jail was established almost two hundred and fifty years ago adjacent to the historic Shillong road. It was a major establishment at that period which along with the supportive structures has created a place identity and image. Since there is a need of large open public space for the people, soon after the decision of relocating the existing premise, the authority decided to demolish all the buildings of the jail complex and proposed an open park over 25.5 acre land. This decision of the Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) was considered non-pragmatic in a sense that old historic and socio-cultural value of the central jail went unrecognized, therefore, this thesis challenged the SCC concept. The primary objective of this thesis was to put forward a generic response of integrating a threefold functions of conservation, creation of a public realm and urban recreational breathing space so that the cultural identity of the Sylhet urban society is retained and a vibrant urban space is created.
The landscape of Sylhet has provoked the creative imagination of the famous literary persons like Baul Shah Abdul Karim and Hason Raja, which have the potential of creating place identity at the base of Assamese Plateau through sensitive design intervention. The famous phrase of “শূন্যেরমাঝার” or “EMPTINESS” was the baseline of the design philosophy in this thesis project. To retain the cultural value and identity of the area, the old buildings of jail were decided to be given adaptive reuse thus retaining the tactile surfaces, inviting proper lights to create the old and original atmosphere and by creating openings to establish relationship with new public spaces. The public realm is decided to be created subtly which can be blended with the context without interfering the dual identity of ‘Old versus New’. The design decisions incorporates urban interventions as a solution to the existing problems like accessibility, traffic flow, integration with the setting and public circulation system.
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