University : Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology
Tutor(s) : Amit Imtiaz
The project rethinks the 300acres of now abandoned government land of Bholagonj Ropeway area which mainly consists of 3 land chunks 1. Shada Pathor Zero Point (no intervention border area), 2.Abandoned Ropeway Station Island (Site B) & 3.An abandoned Quarry brownfield with 10no. Ghat (Site A) by connecting these sites with an engaging sight-seeing experience where tourists can reconnect with the industrial and geological heritage of the site as well as get aware of the local and global issues excessive industrial material consumptions impose. The ultimate result is a memorable journey with few points of rests each unfolding an untold story of the site. The journey begins with the Visitors’ Center which is embedded into an existing quarry pit. The next point is a stone-observatory cum amphitheatre where tourists can see the variations in the stone deposit levels in the flood shed during different seasons. The 10no. ghat will remind the tourists of the true local context of the site where boatmen act as custodians of the River Dholai as well as they can closely observe the Iron towers of the Ropeway, a unique industrial heritage before they set out for the boat journey to explore site B, the island and Shada Pathor Zero Point near the border. Reaching site B, tourists will experience the industrial heritage of the site with full enthusiasm. The abandoned ropeway is converted into a cable-car route. The abandoned Ansar Camp (an old industrial building) is given public use simply by removing walls and exposing its frame structure. From here, tourists can take boats to reach their final destination, Shada Pathor Zero Point to witness the last remaining vast sheet of exposed white sandstone layer.
For landscaping, indigenous plantation techniques were carefully analysed. Since most of the site is contaminated, phytoremediation with vetiver (a local plant) is proposed. Different seasonal plants are used responding to different water levels for productive landscape 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.
Respecting the industrial pre-existence and already existing abandoned concrete structures of the site, 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 Visitors’ Centre, the only and main built intervention of the master plan focuses on vertical movement where different galleries of the material evolution museum 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 industrial materials’ production like concrete, glass etc. posing great threat on 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 which can be reused for the park vegetation. In conclusion, the project revives an abandoned quarry from oblivion, narrates the brutal story of resource mining and reconnects tourists with natural phenomena and splendour.