Submitted by Hamidah Ashrafi Fateha
Fountain at the Museum of Independence, Suhrawardy Udyan
Bangladesh Architecture News - Oct 30, 2020 - 09:21 9730 views
Planted deep within the land where the nation realized its true identity, the museum of Independence, carries thousands of stories about the birth of Bangladesh.
Stories to commemorate. Stories to empathize. Stories to inspire and stories to shake you to the core. And amongst these stories lies a sensitively placed space of great need. This space is to heal you from all that you go through in experiencing the journey of the country’s independence. A blunt space with thick walls and no exhibits secludes you from the heavy surrounding content. It has various subtle design strategies that creates a buffer for you to absorb, exhale and reflect.
The experience within the space is a reflection of all the architects and structural designer from the firm, Urbana who worked on the project, named the Museum of Independence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in collaboration with Architect Marina Tabassum to materialize a comprehended planning of the space which comprised of its placement, natural and artificial lighting, acoustics, scale, volume, construction material, and other physical elements like the steps, openings and wall thickness.
Western Black Gallery. Image © Dhaka Tribune
The space is placed right at the end of the Western Black Gallery. You walk through a corridor of completely black tiled walls and floor with illuminated photographic exhibits of heart-wrenching war cruelty. And at the end of the gallery, to your left you see - an incision on the wall with a beam of light far within. With a disturbed mind, you plunge into the space as if to hold on to that one beam of hope for salvation.
The light draws you into the cool, blank space. You realize the only exit to the place is the one you have entered through and you are not yet ready to go back. So you move forward and with a few steps further you hear the sounds of falling water. Curious about its source, your gaze follows it upward. You find the circular opening on the ceiling which is bringing in both the light and the water. You are filled with awe as you anticipate the water falling from the sky. Your eyes move to the surrounding raw, concrete ceiling with a mix layer of circular patterns and an organic imprint which somehow resembles the natural water and its ripples. And as you stare at the ceiling, already feeling a little lighter than before, you realize you need to sit and take the space in.
Independence Monument and the pond connecting the fountain area beneath. Image © Prabir Das, Daily Star
To accommodate your need, as if by reading your mind, the architects have prepared a few steps circling the water, to let you sit and be with your thoughts. As you motion to sit, you see in front, a circular concrete container holding the water from above. When you sit, your vision is mostly fixed on the place where the water from the sky hits the water within the container- where the splashing sound plays. The dimly lighted, blank, circular concrete wall blends into the background as you concentrate on the water. The thick walls and the few small, linear openings cut visual and auditory connections to outside. The ceiling height being not too grand, provides a comparatively intimate space for you to start contemplating.
A gallery commemorating milestone events of the journey to Independence. Image © Tanweer Morshed
And you start recalling what you have seen and what you have felt. The journey of our independence from the long struggles of being oppressed, of the various injustice and unfairness to finally revolting against and fighting with all we had, even though we had nothing and losing so many lives of our own to get the motherland that today, we can call ours and live in with dignity. You understand the gravity of independence and the generation that brought it to us and you ponder upon the role you are playing, your generation is playing and you finally stand up with much courage in your heart, inspired to leave and play your role in building a better nation to commemorate our independence.
Top image: Fountain in the Museum of Independence. Image © Pallab Kabir