University : Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
Tutor(s) : Dr. khandaker Shabbir Ahmed and Maherul Kader Prince
Rivers are the elements that bind nature and cities together. Bangladesh is a riverine country. Since the earliest days of our civilization, we have been dependent on our rivers. Our ancient settlements and cities were built on the banks of these rivers. They were our source of life, our source of livelihood, and the beginning of our traditions.
It is now evident that our roads and structures did not grow to respect our riverine landscape after the British Period. Gradually our priorities shifted; once dependent on the river, we forgot to take care of them. Urban development neglects the full potential of the surrounding rivers and only uses them as backyards, especially rivers with narrow widths. During the last 40 years, water pollution and riverbank encroachment have become so intense that our rivers are dying gradually.
As a result, of the 405 rivers in Bangladesh, only 230 are now alive. Sadly, 38 of them are on the verge of extinction. This project aims to bring back an urban river from the “backyard” to the “front yard” and mend the river and city relationship by using Nabaganga River and Jhenaidah City as a framework. It aims to make the people aware of the asset that passes through their town and revive the ecological aspect of the river and its adjacent land by creating a network system between nature and the people. The design proposes a four-layered solution. First, a ‘Hydrological Layer’ will treat the open grey water naturally and keep the river water pollution-free. Second, an ‘Ecological Layer’ will support onsite water treatment and revive the biodiversity of the adjacent riverbank. A ‘Cultural Layer,’ which will shed light on the historical and traditional context of the city. This layer will tie the old and new, city and traditions together.
History tells us the economy of Bangladesh had grown beside the rivers, and as the land adjacent to the river is more vulnerable and cheap, the urban poor in our country tend to live beside the river. So that is why the final stage of the design process- ‘Economical Layer,’ by which the low-income community living beside the riverbank can benefit. All four layers will create an experience for the people by adding public functions and natural elements and showcasing the historical features. Once people realize the value of this asset, the city will automatically celebrate the river. Celebrating nature also has a spontaneous ripple effect. For example, being a riverine country, Bangladeshi towns and villages have countless ponds, wetlands, and puddles. If the most significant water body of the city is revived, it will later pass its impact on the smaller water bodies. It will lead the city to sustainable pond-centric urbanism.