Vernacular Architecture as Cultural Heritage: An Interpretation of Urban Vernacular ‘Bangla Baton’ Houses of Sylhet City, Bangladesh
Abstract. ‘Bangla Baton’ house is a unique urban vernacular archetype that has historically evolved from the Assamese style houses and later modified by adapting to the local context of the Sylhet region. These types of houses bring out the rich urban history of Sylhet city and carry significant values of the socio-cultural, environmental, and architectural aspects of the region. Unfortunately, due to high land prices, rapid urbanization, and population growth, they are at high risk of destruction. This research is an interpretation to enhance motivation to make the local community understand the heritage values of this house type. The key objective of this research is to introduce this house form as an element of ‘Cultural Heritage’ by identifying and analyzing its values and assessing the sustainability factors in terms of the environmental and climatic issues of the region. Because of the lack of sufficient literature data, field survey-based observational data were used as the primary approach to identify the significant elements of ‘Cultural Heritage’ of ‘Bangla Baton’ house types. Criteria and indicator-based approach were adopted to assess heritage significances. This paper provides an insight into the urgency of initiating proper planning and conservation management to save this valuable heritage element from extinction. By identifying and analyzing ‘Cultural Heritage’ elements, this study will help generating guidelines for selecting the appropriate methodologies and tools for further assessment of the identified values of this unique heritage form as part of sustainable conservation management and planning.
K e y w o r d s: Bangla Baton house, cultural heritage, vernacular architecture, ethnography, sustainability, conservation management