Reviving the Urban Water-Edge: History and Heritage Morphology in the Envisaging of Chittagong City


  • Md Mustiafiz Al Mamun Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology, Bangladesh
  • Pranjib Paul Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh
  • Sadman Noor Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh
  • Anjuman Ara Begum Doshomik Sthapathi, Architects, Bangladesh



Chittagong City, Colonial Period Architecture, Historical Essence, Tropical Urban Heritage, Urban Morphological Coding, Urban Water-Edge Design


Ancient settlements were dependent on the availability of water for sustainable living, ritual values, and economic purposes. Today, many Tropical Asian cities provide examples of urban settlements within water landscapes, yet these cities struggle with water issues, and face challenges in creating a contextual morphological identity. This paper explores urban waterfront heritage through a case study of Chittagong, Bangladesh. The city is experiencing rapid unplanned urbanisation, insensitive land use and the demolition of historical buildings along waterways, which in turn has created a contextual crisis in the built environment and social living. To explore the relationship of built heritage with the water-edge, this paper examines historical architectural styles using urban morphological codes. Results show that the historical orientations, accessibility, and functions of heritage buildings are explicitly and sensitively connected with the water-edge. The paper argues that physical and spatial components of urban structure and water landscape, incorporating the lessons of urban history, could become a tool to preserve urban heritage. However, to enhance the image of the city in a sustainable manner along water-edges, it is crucial to use the potentiality of water landscape with the heritage-based morphologies in current urban design and development practices.

Author Biographies

Md Mustiafiz Al Mamun, Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology, Bangladesh

Md Mustiafiz Al Mamun has been working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture, the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology (CUET), Chattogram, Bangladesh. Al Mamun completed his Bachelor degree in Architecture at Khulna University (KU), Khulna, Bangladesh, and Master of Science in Urban Environmental Management at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. His research areas are Urban and Peri-Urban Morphology, Urban Landscape (blue and green), Urban Environment and Management, and Sustainable Tourism. He is a full member of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB), and International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP). He is a Member Secretary - (Education) of the IAB Chattogram Chapter (2019-2020). Mustiafiz Al Mamun is the founder and coordinator of Urban Talk (UT), Bangladesh, a research-based networking platform for young researchers and professionals.

Pranjib Paul, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh

Pranjib Paul has a Bachelor degree in Architecture from Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET) and is now working as a Junior Architect at DoshomiK Sthapathi, Chittagong. He started his career as a Research Assistant in the Department of Architecture, CUET and has expertise in building information modeling, building environmental simulation and life cycle analysis tools. His research interests include Urban Environment, Urban Morphology, Building Envelope and Thermal performance on which he has published several international conference papers.

Sadman Noor, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh

Sadman Noor graduated with a Bachelor degree in Architecture from Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET) and is now working as a Junior Architect at an architectural consultancy firm. His research interests are urban heritage conservation and urban design.

Anjuman Ara Begum, Doshomik Sthapathi, Architects, Bangladesh

Anjuman Ara Begum is a Principal Architect at Doshomik Sthapathi, Chattogram.  Anjuman Ara completed her Bachelor degree in Architecture at Khulna University (KU), Khulna, Bangladesh. Her research areas are Architecture, Society and Urban studies. She is a Full member of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB), and currently a Member-Culture of the IAB Chittagong Chapter, Bangladesh (2017-2020).


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How to Cite

Al Mamun, M. M., Paul, P., Noor, S., & Begum, A. A. (2020). Reviving the Urban Water-Edge: History and Heritage Morphology in the Envisaging of Chittagong City. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 19(2), 97–118.