Excerpt:‘Retrospecting Genocide – Awakening the Existence of Zinzira Bazar’ is an architecture thesis by Fazle Rubby Fahim from Department of Architecture, BRAC University, that aims to re-discover the site of the Zinzira massacre in Bangladesh and create a memorial journey that encourages harmony between the past and the present. Prioritising the urban context, the project seeks to revive the existing Zinzira Bazar on the site, in which neighbourhood involvement is strongly encouraged.
Introduction: The genocide that murdered three million people in Bangladesh during the independence war in 1971 is still not recognised widely. In a systematic killing spree, the Pakistani militants and their local allies murdered victims and discarded their dead bodies either at the killing site or in separate mass graves. These killing sites are spread out across the nation. Unfortunately, there was very little visual evidence of these atrocities because famous local reporters were killed or forced to flee the area just after the crackdown, and foreign journalists and reporters were expelled from the nation just before the massacre. Only a few significant mass graves were preserved, protected, and designated as historical sites when the country attained independence. The site of the Zinzira massacre is rediscovered through this research, leading to the development of a memorial journey that encourages harmony between the present and the past.
The project provides a glimpse of the co-existence of various significant functions at the same location. In 1971, a bazar that had long served the neighbourhood also rose to prominence as an important factor in the liberation conflict. In the course of “Operation Searchlight” on the night of March 25, 1971, when people were fleeing from Dhaka, the Pakistani military destroyed the Zinzira Bazar on April 2 and killed almost 700 people there. The mass killing spread from Keraniganj to the unions of “Zinzira,” “Kalindi,” and “Shubhadya.”
The project focuses on the history to analyse the context for developing a landmark to remember the forgotten massacre. The site in Zinzira was chosen for numerous reasons, including the fact that it was one of the most heinous killing sites in the history of the liberation fight, had a horrifying story, and was a crucial location during the conflict. The project requirements were determined by a thorough analysis of the massacre event, interviews with witnesses and survivors, and research on the genocide patterns in Bangladesh.
Currently, the site is home to restaurants, grocery stores, meat and vegetable markets, warehouses, and wholesale businesses. An existing ghaat serves as an informal social space where illegal occupancy also takes place. The bazaar’s current unorganised retail areas and expanded shops with limited space have resulted in narrow pathways.
To ensure that no single attribute overrides another, the aim of this project was to tie the massacre event to the already-existing function. The baseline of the design approach is followed by the New Contextualism which helped define the project in two ways: large-scale factors in an urban setting and the relationships between various functions.
Its site, Zinzira Bazar, could not be demolished in order to construct a memorial considering it is still in use and supports the neighbourhood. Prioritising the urban context, the revival of the Bazar is part of an overall strategy in which neighbourhood involvement is strongly encouraged.
In order to convey the rendezvous, it adds a few additional features and retracts its perimeter to allow access from all directions in the neighbourhood, producing a variety of facilities for the project’s stakeholders as well as the local community and beyond. Along with the conventional Bazar, there is also a mosque, a madrasa hostel, a library, a bakery-café, a theatre, a market, a warehouse, a wholesale dock, and a boat terminal.
The contextual study shows that there aren’t many recreational facilities nearby, and there aren’t any libraries or cafeterias to enjoy the Buriganga River’s scenic beauty. Additionally, there are a great deal of “Ghaat” (boat terminals), which are crucial for loading and unloading cargo, scattered and haphazardly placed on the Buriganga river bank. A bonded framework, including an experiential pathway, is required for the project so that all the functions can coexist under one roof.
A significant portion of the experiential journey begins at the boat terminal’s -15′ plaza, which is also a part of Gallery 1. The concept behind Gallery 1 is the prologue to the Liberation War. Gallery 1 leads to Gallery 2, which is located at -15′ and -25′ levels beneath the conventional Bazar, respectively. This one is purely based on the 1971 Zinzira Massacre. A chair from one of the victim’s homes is displayed there along with other things as an exhibit. The third Gallery connects the café terrace and mosque with a block that includes a library and an experiential pathway.
The journey concludes in a Banyan tree plaza that served as a witness to the Zinzira Genocide of 1971. The third gallery aims to tell the tale of the freedom struggle in 1971. The boat terminal will replace all three of the nearby “Ghaat” structures while continuing to operate from the same spot. To improve the experience, a passenger waiting area, restrooms, and a docking system are also included.
Additionally, a portion of the terminal, including the curatorial office, functions as Gallery 1. The mosque was rezoned, relocated, and equipped with a Jenana floor that can be accessed from the vicinity in order to make accessible road networks uninterrupted.
The traditional bazaar was remodelled with some amenities and separated into various zones to increase its effectiveness. The wholesale setup and warehouse have been relocated to basement level 1 at -15′, where there will also be a loading dock for mass transit.
The marketplace is designed to house additional rentable shops, and the theatre has a terrace garden and a café on the roof. The library block is connected to a confectionery, café, and super-shop block. The project tends to serve not only inside a region or a locale but also enables and permits the neighbourhood and even the city to interact with it.
Conclusion: By creating a memorial journey that promotes peace between the past and the present, this project as a whole adds significance to the site’s history by reminding visitors of the Zinzira massacre. Additionally, the project supports the community and promotes interaction within the city by revitalising the existing functions on the site.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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