In the heart of the port city of Chattogram, the construction of high-rise buildings often comes at the price of old trees and ponds, that are cut down or filled up to make way for 'development'. A public-private partnership hospital on Chattogram's CRB will reportedly be built after cutting down hundred-year-old trees.
In this era of nature's destruction, it is a rare sight to see the whole wall of a building covered in thick green.
It is not covered with artificial colours, or unnecessary weeds, or even plants that grow without any care. The wall has been decorated with plants that have been carefully placed.
It is well planned - the whole building has turned green. Can you imagine a residential multi-storied building with bamboo bushes in the front yard and different flower trees all over the verandas?
Ranks FC Properties Limited, a subsidiary of Rancon Holdings, has constructed such a building called "Memory 71" on a martyred freedom fighter's land located at MM Ali Road in Chattogram.
The building stands a minute away from the Chattogram Shilpakala Academy. The 10-storey building, built on 9.44 kathas of land, has a 95-foot-long wall with small plants. On the veranda and roof of each floor, there are plants of different species of local and foreign flowers, fruits, and shrubs.
A 25-year-old rain tree gives shade like an umbrella to the entrance and protects it from the sun. The warm air of the city is cooled by its branches and flows through different floors of the building.
Passers-by stop in front of the building for a while to behold its unique presence. They take a deep breath in the soothing breeze of the bamboo garden built across the boundary wall of the building.
Ranks FC Properties has created a monument called "Mural 71" in memory of our liberation war, a 22-foot by 5-foot structure, on the road beside the building. The monument reminds the pedestrians of the outstanding contribution of all the freedom fighters including martyred freedom fighter Ahmedur Rahman who was the owner of the land.
Tanvir Shahriar Rimon, CEO of Ranks FC Properties Limited, said, "On April 22, 1971, the Pakistani army abducted martyred freedom fighter, Ahmedur Rahman, from the same spot where 'Memory 71' stands today. He was later killed by the Pakistani army. Now, his wife is the owner of the land. She wanted to name the project 'Roktorin' (debt of blood). But later we proposed 'Memory 71' and she accepted."
"From the beginning, we tried to figure out how to make the building unique. We wanted it to be attractive, not only to the flat owners but also to the neighbours. We wanted it to reflect the memories of our freedom fighters. We discussed many concepts. In the end, our chief architect Wahidur Rahman Adib finalised the design with the vertical green wall," he added.
Wahidur Rahman Adib, the chief architect of Inspace, told The Business Standard, "When we started the project, a rain tree in front of the old house caught our eyes. The tree gives shade to the whole area. We planned to construct the building inclusive of the tree. From that concept, a green atmosphere and vertical forest have been created around Memory 71. We have tried to complete the project while keeping nature intact."
"There were various experiments with vertical forest design. But there were always questions about the maintenance and sustainability of vertical greens. Later, Adib and his team solved the maintenance, care, lighting, and sanitary problems of the outer walls of the building. But will the 95-foot-tall vertical green wall last the test of time? The question remains.
"We tried to understand the method of making vertical green. After returning to the country, we did a vertical green experiment with coconut husk. It was 30 percent successful. Later, the idea of using geotex pots came to our mind. It was 95 percent successful. The trees in the geotex pots are sustaining well now," Tanvir said.
Sohel Rana, project cordinator, said, "We have used the geotex pots in such a way, so that the soil is not washed away from the roots of the plants, during rain or when they are watered. We have also taken different measures to save the plants on this vertical green. For example, there are maintenance slabs at every 20 feet area on the wall. People can take care of the garden standing on the slabs."
"There are safety hooks for maintenance workers as well. Besides, an automatic system has been developed for watering and lighting the garden," he added.
Shah Al Kibria, secretary of the Owners Association of the Ranks FC Properties - Memory 71 project, said, "Ranks FC has tried to integrate both family and nature together in their project. In other buildings there is no opportunity to go outside the flat, the neighbours also remain unfamiliar. But, in Memory 71's, it is a small courtyard for us, built in the natural environment. There is a family lounge and gymnasium on the rooftop. All in all, Memory 71 is a true green village within the city."