The Jatiyo Smriti Shoudho (National Martyrs' Memorial) is a monument in Savar (35 km north-west of Dhaka), which has been created to symbolise the bravery and sacrifice of those killed during the 1971 Liberation War.
Plans for the monument were initiated right after the independence, in 1972. Following the site selection, road and land development, a nation-wide design competition was held in June 1978. Following evaluation of the 57 submissions, Syed Mainul Hossain's design was chosen.
His first design, where two columns were being compressed to meet at the top "to evoke a feeling of upward thrust", was rejected along with those submitted by others as they were not to the standard of the competition jury.
There were two competitions all together. The juries were not satisfied with the submissions first time around. So, there was a second competition and it was on this occasion that my design was given the first prize
At the time, Syed Mainul Hossain was working as a consultant in a busy firm. Initially, he built a miniature version of his second design and then built a larger prefabricated model that he submitted for the competition.
I built a 64/1 model, and used to keep looking at it while lying in bed to get the feel of the real structure seen from its base.
When he assembled them on a table I was sure that this was the winning entry, ours were nowhere near his.
Badrul Haider, Architect remembering how friend Mainul Hossain came to his place with all the separated components of his model in his hands on the submission day
The main monument is composed of 7 (L-shaped concrete structures) isosceles triangular planes each varying in size in its height and base, with the middle one being the tallest. The highest one has the smallest base while the broadest base has the lowest height. The planes are folded at the middle and placed one after another.
The highest point of the monument is 150 feet. The arrangement of the planes has created a structure that seems to change its configuration when viewed from different angles. The monument was built using concrete whilst all the other structures and pavements of the complex are made of red bricks.
It is triangular in shape and composed of seven separate triangles that represent the seven historic events that led to liberation, beginning with 1952. The other important dates - 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1969, and 1971 - commemorate significant confrontations between Bengali leaders and the central government and massive strikes in the eastern province. The monument thus includes not only a symbolic reminder of the sacrifice for freedom but also a direct link between 1952 and independence.
When the two digits are added of each of the figure, you get the number 7. This spurred me to go for seven structures", reveals Hossain, an architect who has given this nation one of its original structures.
Built in the middle of a spread of a 34-hectare (84 acres) area, designed by the architect and a freedom fighter Abdur Rashid, it includes everything from the original mass grave and the early bhittiprastar (foundation stone) to helipads, a parking facility, reflective water body in front of the monument, a stretch of wall for mural and areas of gardens. The whole complex ismagain wrapped around by a green belt of 10 hectares (24.7 acre) to separate the zone from the rest of Savar.
The main structure that Hossain designed in 1978 was completed within three months. However, this hasty approach meant that small faults crept in into the construction.
The cracks that run through the structures are the result of lack of experience on the part of the builder and the span of time it was given,” contends Hossain who was for cutting down of costs by sticking to the idea of building thinner structures.
By the end of 1982 the structure stood tall, though cracks were visible in many of the structures.
The artificial lake and other facilities were completed in 1982 - on the eleventh anniversary of Victory Day.
Once one enters the complex through the main gate he or she can see the monument axially but to reach it one has to walk through different ups and downs of pavements and cross an artificial lake by a bridge-all these represent the struggle for independence.
The project was constructed in three phases. The first one, began in 1972, involved in acquiring land and constructing road for the project at a cost of Tk 26 lacs [2,600,000] (approximately £26,000). During the second phase, 1974 - 1982, Tk 3.77 crores [37,700,000] (approximately £3,700) were spent in order to build the mass-graves, helipad, parking space, pavements etc. In the third phase, began in August 1982, the main structure was built apart from the artificial lake, green belt, cafeteria, housing etc. The third phase required Tk 848.65 lacs [84,865,000] (approximately £848,000) . The Public Works Department of the Government of Bangladesh supervised the construction of the project.
It was an experience to see the Savar in its entirety from that height, I was lured to go up and scan the horizon
Syed Mainul Hossain was later decorated with Ekushey Padak award and Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) honour.
His nephew, Nafees Bin Zafar, is also the first Bangladeshi to win an Oscar in 2008. Nafees was awarded the 'Scientific and Engineering Award' by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, along with his colleagues Doug Roble and Ryo Sakaguchi of Digital Domain for the development of the fluid simulation system.
From its entrance to the monument, one has to walk a straight passage divided into four plazas. The plan for the area was finalised right after independence, though it was during the early years of the autocratic regime of Ershad that the project was hurriedly completed compromising durability and the original plan. says recalling his days as a consultant who periodically visited the sight