The European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) is a network of European cultural institutes and national bodies involved in cultural and related activities beyond their national borders. Cultural heritage, according to EUNIC, has a universal value for us as individuals, communities, and societies, and it evolves with us. On July 11, 2018, the EUNIC Cluster in Bangladesh was launched in partnership with Alliance Française de Dhaka, Goethe Institut, and British Council. This cluster is supported by Spanish, Netherland, and Belgian embassies as well as the EU delegation in Bangladesh.
EUNIC’s flagship project ‘River Heritage’ focuses on the architectural heritage of old Dhaka, its people’s way of life, their means of subsistence, and the intricate relationship they maintain between the river and the city. This project accommodates cultural exchange programs in collaboration with local partners to stimulate thought and curiosity about Puran Dhaka’s tangible and intangible heritage.
The Buriganga has seen Dhaka from its birth to the present time. It has made it the center of trade and commerce at one point and provided livelihood for the people of the city and its periphery. Once buzzing with life, it is slowly dying away due to pollution.
This project is an attempt to visually develop a narrative that – Explores cultural heritage around the Buriganga in the form of short stories, folktales, and poetry; Examines socio-economic transitions of urban traditional artists over the years and their effect on the creative community; Exhibits the after-effects of urbanization in the surrounding areas of the Buriganga.
Conducted by the Brihatta Art Foundation, this project engages young practitioners from different art media to emerge themselves with the river Buriganga and the lives revolving around her.
An exhibition titled “Ganga Buri” will open for all on 8th Dec 2023 with the thoughts, works , and experience of the participants at the premise of Brihatta Art Foundation.
Learning from Puran Dhaka (February, 2023)
“Learning from Puran Dhaka: The Urbanity of Occupations Along the Buriganga Riverfront” is the third chapter of EUNIC’s heritage initiative “River Heritage”.
In this project, living exhibition and an open workshop by a group of architecture students and faculties from Mumbai, Trivandrum, Paris, and Dhaka: Claudio Secci, architect and coordinator of the workshop (France), and Kamalika Bose, architecture consultant and coordinator of the workshop (India) gathered 49 students from Mumbai, Trivandrum, Paris, and Dhaka from 4th to 18th February in old Dhaka, the core of the river heritage project. The team immersed themselves in the alleys and Ghats of Puran Dhaka and explored the endangered tangible and intangible heritage. After the workshop, the drawings, maps, plans, observations, pictures, and part of the testimonies of local inhabitants were presented before the audience at La Galerie, Alliance Française de Dhaka.
Afterward, Alliance Francaise de Dhaka where young photographers (Pathshala Institute), performers (Ramona and Gale), and musician Rahul Ananda (Joler Gaan) entertained the local audience of Puran Dhaka through their respective media of art as a gesture to give back to the community for the knowledge they provided.
During the research work, the students from L’École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-La Villette (ENSAPLV) participated in the workshop and later published their memories upon returning to their institutes.
Please find the reports from below links:
Hidden Heritage: Homes in Dhaka
A first of its kind in Bangladesh, the web-based project “Hidden Heritage: Homes in Dhaka,” focuses on highlighting homes and houses in Dhaka from various periods in its history. The first phase of the project which includes five houses was marked by a launch event on 17th September, at the well-known Haturia House in Bongshal. His Excellency Charles Whiteley, the Ambassador of the European Union in Bangladesh was present as the chief guest. The British High Commissioner to Bangladesh H.E. Robert Chatterton Dickson, the French Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Deputy Head of Mission, Political and Cultural Affairs H.E. Guillaume AUDREN de KERDREL, Director of Alliance Française de Dhaka, François Grosjean, Director of Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, Dr. Kirsten Hackenbroch, Director General of Bengal Institute Prof Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, family members of the heritage houses, and many well-wishers were present at the event.
Conceived as a dedicated documentation and web-based presentation of significant homes and buildings, the project has been undertaken to document selected buildings/spaces within greater Dhaka city, along with their historical, societal and environmental context. Each house is depicted through a multimedia platform including 360-degree photography, regular photographs, videos, new drawings, and other documents.
The website for the project “Hidden Heritage: Homes in Dhaka,” produced by Bengal Institute with support from EUNIC (the European National Institutes for Culture), was launched on 17th September, 2022 afternoon. The partners for this project were: European Union in Bangladesh , Alliance Française de Dhaka , British Council Bangladesh , Goethe-Institut Bangladesh and Embassy of Spain in Bangladesh.
The website is accessible at: https://hiddenheritage.org/
Learning From Puran Dhaka Launching
EU Ambassador, Charles Whiteley,
Director of Alliance Francaise, Francois Grosjean,
Director British Council, Tom Miscioscia,
Architect Kamalika Bose,
Professor Shayer Ghafur, BUET
Artist Ashfika Rahman
at the launching of the EUNIC project aimed at preserving and cherishing heritage, craft and architecture of Old Dhaka…9 May….2022….celebrating heritage in the unifying spirit of Europe Day.
EUNIC: the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) is a network of European national institutes of culture and national bodies engaged in cultural and related activities beyond their national borders. EUNIC brings together organizations from all 27 EU member states and adds value through its global network of clusters. By pooling together the resources and expertise of its members and carrying out joint work on common areas of interest, EUNIC is a recognized partner of the EU and its stakeholders in defining and implementing European policy on the culture inside and outside the EU.
To promote cultural diversity and mutual understanding between cultures EUNIC Bangladesh will collaborate with local organizations in Dhaka, to promote the value of architectural heritage. RiverHeritage is the third chapter of a long-running heritage-focused initiative by the EUNIC cluster in Bangladesh (Alliance Française, Goethe Institut, British council, Spanish and Belgian embassies, and the EU Delegation in Bangladesh). This project is scheduled to be run between January 2023 and 2024. It has chosen Old Dhaka as the work area for which the project will concentrate on its architectural heritage, its people’s way of life, the means of their subsistence, and the intricate relationship they keep between the river and the city.
Learning from Puran Dhaka
Several cultural activities will follow the project ‘Learning from Puran Dhaka’ throughout its length to inspire thought and curiosity about Puran Dhaka’s tangible and intangible heritage. For example, a boat and several heritage spaces designed to greet diverse demonstrative events (on, among other things, filmmaking, folklore storytelling, upcycled tools, as well as musical concerts, photography and art exhibitions).
Over 80 architectural students from architecture schools in Dhaka BUET, Mumbai, Trivandrum, and Paris (National School architecture of Paris-La Villette) will work on the project. The results will be published in a book and will be included in the official programme of the Dhaka Art Summit 2023.