There are many examples around the world where cities tried to save their historically important architectural structures to add value to their heritage.
Building back an old architectural structure can serve as a great example of how new development does not always mean demolishing the old ones. Continuous urban development is possible by respecting historical buildings.
A couple of months back, students of the University of Dhaka protested when the authorities began to cut down trees near the Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) area for the metro rail project. In 2016, the students of Dhaka University urged authorities not to run the metro rail project through the university area.
They pointed out that the historical places and the famous sculptures would lose their attraction and dignity if the metro rail went through the campus.
This article does not discourage the continuous development process of a city. Its purpose is to give a message that the stakeholders' emotions and needs should be considered. They are after all the end-users.
The emotions of the students and city dwellers should be included in the planning process and a historic and positive example of development should be made through a community participation approach.
One good example of restoring a historical and forgotten building is the Daniels Building at the University of Toronto. The building embodies sustainability and urban design at the same time. It has become a new home for the John H Daniels Faculty of architecture, landscape, and design.
The old building was founded in 1844 as a seminary by the Presbyterian Church. In course of time, this Gothic Revival structure housed a series of different types of occupants. It was acquired by the University of Toronto in 1970.
To achieve a friendly relationship between the old and the new building built next to it, the height of both buildings were kept similar. And the vertical elements of the facade are also of similar height. There is no strict rule in architecture, but the most admirable part here is the respectful attitude towards a historical building.
Here the development team has successfully been able to preserve culture while respecting the values of the students and the public. The challenges of blending developments of two historical periods have been handled intelligently by using the power of architecture and planning.
This design is an example of compromising with the old, in spite of new developments. The design not only highlighted the historical building, but also enshrined the Gothic revival structure. This simple power of architecture and urban planning has made it a significant example of inspiring future practices.
Ignoring the emotions of students, this historical building could have been replaced by a new tech building for accommodating all the future needs of the city and the university campus. It would have also involved less hassle.
But instead, they tried to bring the grandeur of the historic building back and at the same time, they tried to accommodate the new needs of the university and the city. The development team has shown respect by letting the old building sit on the site proudly. It was a wonderful approach of the architect team led by Nader Tehrani and Katherine Faulkner.
Architecture, urban planning and all physical, non-physical development can be threats to communities and cities if they do not preserve historical values.
Rizwana Islam is an architect and a business analyst