Plundering of heritage
Daily Star 2008-07-24
Mahbubur Rahman Professor of Architecture, North South University
THIS is in response to several recent incidents regarding loss of architectural heritage of a city poised to celebrate the fourth centenary of being a capital city.
The 103 years old Paribagh mosque built by Nawab Salimullah had also just been demolished, and I didn’t see any report on this. ……
However, the greatest culprit is the Department of Archaeology, the official custodian of heritage structures. They must be blamed for the collapse of Ahsan Manzil gate as they allowed encroachments on the already dilapidated structure instead of protecting it.
Buildings and monuments that reflect high points in human achievement, symbolizing a particular civilization, a significant development, or an historic event, acquire a greater significance in our cultural and national life and warrant continuance. These possess great emotional value as symbols of our cultural identity in addition to architectural, aesthetic and historic values.
Architecture, an expression in material form of a society’s social, economic, technological and cultural achievements, gives a vivid picture of it at a point in history in a particular location. Preservation of architectural works is, therefore, of immense significance as a means of cultural heritage preservation for a society that values its past. The older section of cities, or significant buildings, must be held in trust for future generations; without this a city is like a human being without a soul.
Various organizations and groups are now clamoring to be in the forefront of the celebration of 400 years of the city, without caring for an authentic history or for saving the ancient edifices that are the material evidence of our past. Architecture, as a vehicle of cultural expression and experience, becomes a veritable document in absence of adequate historical sources and writings — a common denominator linking past to the present and to the future. Let’s save our architectural heritage.