River Rhapsody: Museum of Rivers and Canals
Exhibition of 3rd Year Student Projects I Summer 2017
Rivers are epic stories, engraved in geography. Nowhere is this phenomenon more poignantly demonstrated than in the Bengal delta. Contemplating Bengal’s aquatic cartography, Poet Jibananando Das wrote: “…The river murmurs something on its way through.” In his soliloquy with the river, Jibananando, like many others, discovered the nature of Bengal, a riverine tapestry that weaves together humanity with an archetypal consciousness of nature. Rivers are Bengal’s lifeline. They make Bengal Bengal. Yet, in the name of progress, in the last three decades or so rivers and canals in urban Bangladesh have been encroached upon to create land for growth and gentrification. They have been seen as dumping ground for industrial wastes. The pollution of river waters has shown the dark side of prosperity. The melancholy of disappearing rivers and canals can now be felt across Bangladesh.
In this context, third year architecture students of the Department of Architecture at BRAC University faced the challenge of building public awareness through the design of a Museum of Rivers and Canals along the Karnafuli River in old town Chittagong. In addition to showcasing the history, geography, and economy of rivers and canals through a host of exhibits at the museum, the architecture of the museum itself was envisioned as a solemn reminder of our responsibility toward Bengal’s precious “waterscape.” Guided by Professor Adnan Morshed and AbulFazal Mahmudun Nobi, six student groups responded to this design challenge by combining research, aesthetics, and a deep sense of environmental ethics.