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A Gesture to the

Himalayas Price NRs. 100/- IRs. 65/

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The Burj Khalifa at Dubai, piercing the sky at 828 m, has won the title of 'the world's tallest architectural top' by being 320m taller than the former winner 'Taipei 101' at Taiwan. – Ar. Bansri Pandey

Only at one specific point on the site of the Royal Norwegian Embassy at Lalitpur, can one actually see the Himalayas. Hence to capture this view, one part in the building rises to a second floor and this highlighting change in building level, needing a face became ‘a gesture to the Himalayas’ – Ar. Swati Pujari

The 'Architectural Thesis Project', as prescribed in the Bachelor Degree of Architecture at Tribhuvan University, provides an excellent opportunity to students to demonstrate their research and analysis. The following designs presented here were chosen as the top eight theses in ranking for the B.Arch. program 2066 B.S. from Kathmandu Engineering College. – Compiled by Amir Maharjan




KU, BACHELOR IN FINE ART SOLO EXHIBITION The BFA curriculum comprises of intensive studio practices, which provides foundation courses in the first two years, followed by an elective in the third year. The final year ends with solo exhibitions by the students, and this year, seven students have accomplished their final solo exhibition in the month of June 2010. – Ar. Kalpana Bhandari



Cover Photo Photographs: Ashesh Rajbansh Canon EOS 5D Mark II Av 6.3 ISO 800

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The squares and streets of Kathmandu core are the foremost in advocating that public open spaces are where people discover the value and benefits of public life. However, with the rapid pace of development, the image of these places is being lost into a characterless chaos. – Ar. Shailita Manandhar Joshi

open spaces are the first to be the victims of encroachment. As much of the open spaces in Kathmandu are either congested or are inaccessible, places of retreat for Kathmandu urbanites are becoming a thing of the past.– Ar. Swati Pujari with Ar. P. Marhatta






It is very disheartening to note that the rapacious land grabbing of the meagre open spaces of the past heritage is still going on unabated. With the uncontrolled urbanization going around Kathmandu and the fast deterioration of open space system, one wonders where we are heading to. – Prof. Bharat Sharma


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Regd. No 30657/061-62

July-August 2010

Temporary CDO No. 41

Managing Editor / Editor

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July-August 2010


EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Prof. Bharat Sharma graduated from Harvard in 1980 with a Masters in Landscape architecture. After 35 years of service at the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, he retired in 2001 and is now a Professor at Faculty of Architecture of Nepal Engineering College, Kathmandu. One of his greatest achievements has been the conceptual master plan for the Pashupati Area Development Trust and his work in environment enhancement and design of Bhrikutimandap gardens in context of the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu. (dhabauli@ Sandeep Giri is the President of Gham Power, the first company to bring #1-ranked American solar PV technology to Nepal. Mr. Giri, who has lived in San Francisco, USA, since 1998, helped to launch several technology companies, including an off-shore software company in Kathmandu. Mr. Giri holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science and a certificate in Solar Energy from University of California at Berkeley.

Ar. Shailita Mananadhar Joshi is a Lecturer and Thesis Co-ordinator at Kathmandu Engineering College, Kathmandu. A researcher by nature, she has completed Bachelors in Architecture from Tribhuvan University and Masters in Urban Design from University of Hong Kong. She has presented multiple study reports on subjects such as Socio-Cultural Influence in Architecture, Waterfront Development and Street Markets. She completed her MUD as an ADB (Asian Development Bank) Scholar, and her thesis dissertation was titled "Redefining the Image of the Streets of the Historic City Cores: A Case of Kathmandu". During her stay at Hong Kong she has worked with the Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong and is currently practicing architecture at READ Consult Pvt. Ltd, Kathmandu. ( Ar. Kalpana Bhandari is a fresh graduate from Kathmandu Engineering College. She fosters special interest in Architectural Journalism, and aspires to design energy efficient buildings especially for rural sectors. (kalpana.

Amir Maharjan is a final year architecture student at Kathmandu Engineering College, Kalimati. Currently he is dedicated to his Bachelor's Degree thesis. He is also interested in creative designing and is a volunteer for a building design through the Kirtipur Engineering Society. (


July-August 2010

The facts page in the official web site of Kathmandu Metropolitan City puts the urbanization going around population density of the city as 13,225 per Kathmandu and the fast sq. km. Scroll a little above and you will find deterioration of its open that the population of Kathmandu city is stated as 671,846 with CBS2001 written in space system, one wonders brackets – meaning that the figure is based where we are heading to. on the last census taken in the year 2001, Furthermore, by the time i.e., almost 10 years ago! The census also specifies that of the three municipalities the concerned institution within the Valley, Lalitpur had an urban wakes up from hibernation population of 162,991, while Bhaktapur and makes an effort to had 72,543. What the figures are today can publish an ‘inventory’ of only be guessed at and most researches and planning papers project the figure to the open space system be between 1.5 to 2.5 million collectively in the Valley in order to within the Valley. This alarming jump within manage it, all that will a decade is no doubt disturbing and fuelled probably be left will be the by the political upheaval and instability in the country, the trend shows no signs of book only.” abating within the near future. So what – Prof. Bharat Sharma, holds in store for us urban frogs basking in Landscape Architect its past glory leads to the above statement by Prof. Bharat Sharma and to our focus in this issue – Urban Open Spaces. Nevertheless, it is not that we are not aware of what is happening around us, and at times, concerted and combined efforts of professionals and concerned citizens have been made to put things right (the Ganatantra Stambha proposed at the Ratna Park being one prominent example). However, one can find that such priorities are still obscured by short-sighted decision makers and unless political commitment is ensured, plans, however feasible and lucrative they may be, will simply remain on paper, collecting dust. “With the uncontrolled

The cover feature this time is the Royal Norwegian Embassy at Lalitpur designed by architect Kristin Jarmund of Norway. As with the American Embassy at Kathmandu (SPACES -Sept/Oct 2007), embassies reflect the psychology of the people of the country it represents and as we found out, their designs portray the culture and beliefs of the people of that country. While the American Embassy was completely designed and constructed with international input, the Royal Norwegian Embassy used local expertise for both its design details and construction, and as Kristin’s Nepalese counterpart, architect Biresh Shah puts it, ‘was a huge leap in time and space!’ The Burj Khalifa – the tallest structure in the world – is the latest in man’s relentless effort to surpass his limits. This building, standing at 828 metres, is an extra ordinary feat, which for us in this part of the world, is something we can only look at and wonder.....

July-August 2010



Thank you for your support.

Need magazines for Library

I have just gone through the March -April issue of SPACES and am thankful to you for providing so much of precious space by publishing articles by students of Pulchowk campus related to the 12th Annual ASA Architectural Exhibition. This will surely inspire students to write for SPACES and conduct programs like the Architectural exhibition. I am personally thankful for your support during 12th ASA Exhibition and hope for your continued support in the days to come.

As you are covering a lot on what is happening on art in Nepal, would it be possible for us to avail the earlier issues for our library collection? I hope you will be positive towards my request.

Projwol R. Bajracharya, Chief Co-ordinator, 12th ASA exhibition,

Ramesh Khanal, Arupan artist, How do I subscribe to SPACES? I would like to subscribe to SPACES. What procedure should I follow? Also, could you direct me to your office? Gyanendra, (Please call Pratima or Anish @ 01-5544606 / 5526040)

For SUBSCRIPTIONS Call: 01-5544606 / 01-5526040 Email:


July-August 2010

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July-August 2010


© Kasthamandap Art Studio

News and Happenings


Ramesh’s 25th

ARUPAN Composition

Continuing with his earlier ‘Arupan’ series, Ramesh Khanal’s foray into abstract forms art works this time round was on one inch square canvases. Exhibited at the R N Joshi Center for Fine Art, in Pulchowk, these formless abstracts according to art critic Mukesh Malla, were a fine and unique presentation of a combination of miniature and minimal art. According to the artist, these works, which took more than three years of dedication, were inspired by earlier international miniature art works.

A tribute to the

great artists 14TH MAY 2010, LALITPUR

“Kapil is a figurative artist,” says Chirag Bangdel, a figurative artist himself, and goes on to add, “There is nothing more gratifying than creating artistic nudes.” And that is how Kapil Mani Dixit chose to glorify some of the great artists in his exhibition at the Yala Maya Kendra at Lalitpur. Kapil’s red and black art works were re-compositions of masterpieces, incorporating human nude forms into the individual styles.


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with Contextual Modernism

16-18 MAY 2010, LALITPUR

A two-day seminar followed by an extended exhibition was organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kathmandu, in co-operation with the Institute of Engineering (IOE) at the Pulchowk Campus, Lalitpur. The seminars, aptly titled ‘Living with Contextual Modernism’, were held on the 16th and 18th of May, followed by the exhibition “Contemporary Norwegian Architecture 2000-2005” on 19th May which concluded on 7th June 2010. The first day of the seminar was divided into two sessions, both titled ‘Contextual Modernism in Architecture: Norwegian and Nepalese experiences’. The first session saw some insights regarding context and modernism as defined by Architect Kristin Jarmund (practicing architect from Norway and the architect for the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu) and by Prof. Jiba Raj Pokharel from NTNU and Ar. Biresh Shah of Archiplan. This day shed some light on

the architectural history and practices of Norway and that of Nepal, from where the discussion moved on to the roots of modernism in art and finally concluded with a heavy discussion on the current scenario of Modern Architecture in Nepal. The second day of the seminar, on the other hand, was more of a technical session with papers presented by the PhD candidates of IOE as well as two Norwegian students of architecture doing their research in Nepal. The technical sessions were divided into three parts. The first part had ‘Living in Safety: Addressing Disaster Issues with Appropriate Technology’, presented by Ar. Punya Sagar Marahatta (PhD candidate, IOE), Ar. Inu Pradhan Salike ( Asst. Professor, IOE), Dr. Jishnu Subedi (IOE) and Ar. Sushil Bajracharya (PhD candidate, IOE). This session highlighted the issues of risk and vulnerability in the present context of Nepal and also presented some useful tools which are being practiced in order to assist the vulnerability evaluation.

The second session titled ‘Sukumbasi: The informal settlements and squatter settlements of the Kathmandu Valley’ was presented by Dr. Mahendra Subba (DUDBC / MoPP&W), Prof. Mahesh Shrestha (Professor from IOE), and Prafulla Man Singh Pradhan (UN-HABITAT). In this session the ongoing research by DUDBC on the different squatter settlements of the Valley was presented along with a discussion on the possible solutions for this problem. The third and final session was titled ‘Bazaar Future: What is the future of the history?’ and the presenters for this session were Ar. Deepak Pant (PhD candidate, IOE), Ms Linn Skjold (NTNU) and Ar. Benjamin Haffner (NTNU). The sessions mostly featured talks about the urban life of traditional Kathmandu, especially focusing on its urban spaces. The two day seminar also became a platform to unleash many buried sentiments regarding the architectural development of Kathmandu, especially when referred to the current context and to modernism. Many questions ranging from the definition of ‘modern Nepali architecture’ to the ideas of ‘conservation in a tourist’s point of view’ were raised in the seminar. July-August 2010



Norwegian Architecture 2000-2005



On 19th May the exhibition titled “Contemporary Norwegian Architecture 2000-2005” was inaugurated by H.E. Thor Gislesen, the Ambassador of Norway to Nepal. The exhibition produced by the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Norway, presented fifty buildings that had been selected by a jury as the best examples of Norwegian architecture from the period of 2000 to 2005. Using drawings, pictures, models and video for the showcase, the exhibition was thematically divided into five categories viz., Transformation, Form and function, Symbol and identity, Materials and Constructions, Contrast and Proximity. The exhibition has been touring around the world since 2005 and was brought to Nepal from Abu Dhabi from where the exhibition moved to Singapore as its final destination. © Sagar Chitrakar


The perfect place to be

21- 23 MAY 2010

With a catch phrase of ‘The Perfect Place to be” Downtown Apartments was recently launched and opened for booking at an interactive event organized at their corporate office in Ekantakuna, Lalitpur. The project, a product of Downtown Housing Company Pvt. Ltd., primarily targets families, professionals, business owners, executives, business travellers, expatriate community, guests on longer holidays and corporate guests. The 192 apartments in the two fourteen storied blocks are also as varied as the target group ranging from studio apartments to 2/ 3/ 4 bedroom apartments, to pent houses. The prices too are in a spectrum between Rs. 2.685 million for a 496.95 sq ft studio apartment at the lowest and Rs. 14 million for a 2,592.96 sq ft (+ 234.8 sq ft balcony area) 4 bedrooms pent house at the highest. Located at Khumaltar, just 0.7 Kms from Satdobato Chowk, the project provides three attractive payment plans for its potential buyers: Down Payment plan, Construction Linked Plan and Bank Finance Plan, satisfying the different needs of its varied targets. The launch cum booking for the apartments was attended by a surprisingly substantial number of prospective buyers in spite of the recent slump in the real estate market. Contrary to the usual trend of showcasing mock-up apartments, all the aspects of the project were presented and explained, accompanied by computer generated animations of the complex as well as 3 dimensional models of both exterior as well as interior space.


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Transitions Gaurav’s



Gaurav Shrestha, known for his rich mystical collages, has moved out from his forte to experiment into the vibrations generated by incantations of the eternal word ‘OM’. As the artist commented at the launch, it was refreshing positive change - something one needs at times to reflect and review to be more creative as it develops. The 28 mix media art pieces on display at the Gallery32@Dent Inn were a one year journey of experimentations, gradually progressing from the Om implanted on a chromatic metal blue and then gradually breaking away to fine geometric coloured progressions vibrating from the central Om theme.


After his first solo exhibition in 2000, Chirag Bangdel exhibited his 16th set of paintings consisting of fresh works as well as some works from earlier series at the Nepal Art Council in Kathmandu. “The world is a she, nature is a she, my country is a she and my mother is a she,” says Kushboo Agrawal quoting the artist in the launch of the exhibition, which is probably why he prefers to paint feminine forms in most of his works. Chirag’s works, as his statement, are beautifully soft despite the bold outlines of his creations.

CEEA opens 18TH JUNE 2010

display centre

Cosmic Electrical Engineering Associates Pvt. Ltd (CEEA), the distributors and channel partners of ABB, Delta Technology and Carrier, launched a display outlet at the Bluebird Mall, Thapathali. The display centre mostly showcases the products of ABB and Delta Technology. The ABB products displayed a range of varieties of Switches and Sockets to Circuit Breakers, Manual Motor Starters etc., in low voltage to Outdoor Live Tank Circuit Breakers, Vacuum Circuit Breakers, Insulated Ring Main Units and Compact Switchgear in medium voltage. The products of Delta Technology included Lighting Conductors and Surge Arresters. While ABB is a global company which operates in around 100 countries the world over, Delta Technology, France, is a company that specializes in Lightning Protection and Earthing System, and Carrier is a part of United Technologies Corporation, USA.

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Art and Design

KU, Centre for Bachelor of Fine Art Solo Exhibition Text: Ar. Kalpana Bhandari


athmandu University’s Bachelor of Fine Art, with two successful graduate batches, has introduced Graphic Communication in its four year program, and is the first institution to do so in Nepal. With an intake of 24 students per year, the institution aims to introduce the students to different disciplines of Fine Arts as a professional, service and career oriented genre or to assist them in their further pursuit in Art. The BFA curriculum comprises of intensive studio practices, which provides foundation courses in the first two years, followed by an elective in the third year. The final year has various professional skills added to the curriculum of the first three years and ends with solo exhibitions by the students majoring in Painting, Sculpture or Graphic Designing. It is well known that art has different meanings to different people, and its beauty varies whatsoever. However, the students are required to produce a minimum marginal number of art pieces for the exhibition and the standards for marking is categorised accordingly. This year, seven students have accomplished their final solo exhibition in the month of June 2010, with four majoring in Sculpture, two in Graphic Communication and one in Painting.

Gaurav Tripathi Major in Sculpture SEARCHING FOR UTILITY 6-10th June, Nepal Art Council

“Oh! That’s a beautiful piece of art for my home,” is what a layman would say at a glance of an object of interest. Gaurav Tripathi adds more to the statement. His search for the ‘utility in art’ reflects in his chosen project, blending aesthetics with function. Gaurav’s projects ranged from ambient showpieces to sculptures of daily use like furniture. Gaurav’s designs are brief compilations of a search of functions, sculpturing anthropometry with elements, which could be used at leisure times as well as most busy hours. Materials used were wood, metal and mud as well as varied uses of ceramics and galvanized iron sheets. Gaurav’s pieces left the viewers gaze and wonder about the use that each individual could imply.

Suman Thapa Major in Sculpture REPETITION OF DIFFERENT OBJECTS 11th -14th June, Nepal Art Council

Art and architecture is never stagnant, developing into contemporary and post-modernism that we call today. One common factor amongst the respective designs, designers and artists remain their inspiration, and Suman, a major in Sculpture, is no different in his inspiration from ‘patterns’ or ‘repetition of objects’. Suman uses less-valued objects, as we term ‘junk’ that are readily disposed, to enliven his inspiration. His varied collection of wastes are beautifully patterned into forms of art, combining aesthetics and junk together – no doubt, a challenging venture. Suman not only uses these waste materials artistically, but also manages them technically.


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ART Amit Raj Shilakar Major in Sculpture QUIET CROWD 8th – 12th June, Park Gallery

Amit Raj Shilakar's art works consists of forms created out of coins. Simple? Not at all! Just as the famous French/American artist Marcel Duchamp had said that ‘the medium is the messenger,’ Amit has given a new perspective to the use of coins. It is not that coins have not been used for other purposes besides trade in our culture, for example, who would believe that nailing a coin onto a wall will relieve toothache? But Amit’s translation to the coin’s different and contemporary use surely speaks of vision, diligence and of course a lot of expenditure. And that is just to speak of the background behind his creations. Just as countless grains of sand build up to become a mountain, or bricks stacked together become a piece of architecture, Amit’s concept bases itself on building up on an a single unit to form something substantial, something contemporary – a piece of art.

Sheelasha Rajbhandari Major in Sculpture IN BETWEEN UNCOMMON FACTORS 10th -14th June, Nepal Art Council

Sheelasha Rajbhandari believes in sculpturing intangible emotions into tangible elements. Working with materials like ceramics, papiermache and wastes like jute, cotton, etc., she attempts to bring forth a concept of bringing together uncommon factors, basing them on a 400 year old Japanese art form. Ant - the one considered as most inferior and the most almighty one - God, were brought together, conceptualizing them ‘in between uncommon factors’. The ever mobile ants were stationed in places and in the form of sculptures of gods - totally controlling nature. God’s vision, as we perceive, is abstract, and like ants, there are many other things that we ignore in our daily lives, but are equally important - where Sheelasha attempts to find common in between two these uncommon factors.

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ART Dipesh Ranjit Major: Graphic Communication STREET CHILDREN 18th June, KU Centre for Art and Design

We cannot ignore what we see, but what stays in mind requires visual strengthening of the image seen. And one of the best ways to do so is to communicate through graphics, as graphics attracts both the alert as well as the ignorant ones. Dipesh Ranjit, a Graphic Communication major, enlightened a topic that could not leave anyone ignorant. The street children captivated by poverty, hunger and deprived of basic rights was Dipesh’s inspiration. Through the project, their yearning for change was clearly reflected which tried to bring into fold those who can make changes to their plight. The graphic mediums of public attention were in the form of posters, hoarding boards, pamphlets and magazine and newspaper advertisements. And as it goes, a picture speaks for itself; Dipesh had words as his slogan, ‘Be their Inspiration.’

Roseling Shakya Major in Painting SILENT SWAYS OF SELF DISINTEGRATION !7th- 21st June, Nepal Art Council

‘The temporary drift gives rise to a schism, creating a sense of stun and apathy,’ states Roseling Shakya. Art communicates to its viewers. You can describe your insight like no other can. Roseling Shakya has done this beautifully by portraying herself to exemplify her ‘self disintegration.’ While her chosen colours and strokes do justice to her theme, the scale of images enhances her depiction. The paintings are about time - before, within and after it. Rose has canvassed emotions, from vividness to perplexity, joyous to solitude, agony to calmness. Her paintings are mirror images to the states of mind that each individual experiences - a reflection of the phase that one passes once in a while or throughout lifetime. ‘Silent Sways of Self Disintegration’ is what it is - just and vivid.


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Sandeep Thapa Major: Graphic Communication NEPAL HANDICRAFT 18th June, KU Centre for Art and Design

Nepalese have always welcomed the non-nepali people from all over the world, priding on their exquisite forms of art and architecture. Handicraft, or handmade products are those elements that truly demonstrate the originality of vernacular architecture. Sandeep Thapa, with the aim ‘Get Handmade, Be Stylish’, graphically portrayed the traditional Nepali vernacular art with a western touch. The wind of fusion worked, contrasting the background and foreground at the same time taking it simultaneously forward. Sandeep’s replication of the art with graphics was through the mediums of posters, pamphlets, visiting cards and newspaper advertisements.

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A Gesture to the

Himalayas Text: Ar. Swati Pujari


July-August 2010


herself is very concerned about "where to bring in the light and where the views are," concerns that are very well addressed in the embassy building.

ARCHITECTURAL REFLECTION OF A SOCIAL DEMOCRACY The first impression of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu is that of its openness. It is rather surprising to see such an open and inviting character at a diplomatic complex, especially in a foreign land, where security is always a major concern. The architect, Kristin Jarmund, explains that the Royal Norwegian Embassy building tries to portray the social democracy of Norway and of Scandinavia, which is quite an open democracy. But as is the case of all embassies, security is definitely a major concern. So how does the design tackle this issue while still reflecting the openness of its origin? According to the architect, the site played a very important role. Although situated within a dense urban fabric, it is fortunate that the area is not too

exposed to the outer environment. There is only one tight location at the site where the boundary opens out; all the other edges are blocked by the neighbouring sites. The land slopes towards the north with multiple terraces, and the walls of the terraces work themselves into the boundary. All vertical levels merge into the boundary walls and then become a part of the building design. So one cannot actually differentiate between the boundary, the terraces and the building, thus making the complex transparent, open and inviting. The other major element highlighting this openness is the generous use of glass. Norway being a cold country, it seems only obvious that there would be limited use of glass in their buildings. Instead the factors that define glass use in Norway are light and views. Kristin

THE HIMALAYAN WINDOW On entering through the security gates of the embassy at Pulchowk, one is confronted by the embassy building, which has a strong impact in its proximity and yet manages to be modest in its form. The horizontally elongated building with generous use of wood and glass has only a part of it rising two floors. One can be amazed by the beauty of this simplicity at first. But a second and deeper look into the building brings about the appreciation of the complexity in achieving this simplicity. The overall form, at a quick glance, seems very simple. But it was achieved through an idealistic thinking process. The building is modest in its size as the architect was very concerned regarding its merger with the urban fabric of Kathmandu. July-August 2010



On a clear day, the Himalayan Window reflects the Himalayas that it is based on

“IN MY VIEW MAKING ARCHITECTURE IS NOT WORKING WITH PRE FIXED SOLUTIONS, IT SHOULD NOT BE, IT IS KIND OF AN ARTISTIC, DYNAMIC EXPERIENCE.” – KRISTIN JARMUND Only at one specific point on the site, can one actually see the Himalayas. This view was an aspect that the architect wanted to capture, and so the only part in the building that rises to the top floor is from where one can see the Himalayas. This highlighting change in building level had to be presented as the entrance to the building. The entrance thus needed to have a face, and the face ‘the Himalayan Window’ became a gesture to the Himalayas. So what is this 'Himalayan Window' indeed? The Himalayan Window at the first floor level of the building is in fact a floor to ceiling window made of structural glass, presented in a zig-zag fashion, or rather according to the 'Footprints of the Himalayas'. This window, facing towards the cool north represents a Himalayan footprint, both on the floor as well as the ceiling. On a clear day, the Himalayan Window reflects the Himalayas that it is based on. Kristin remembers a special moment on the day of the opening of the embassy. A construction worker, who had been engaged for the nearly one and a half years of its construction time, came up to


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her and pointing to the Himalayan Windows, commented, "Very nice idea, very nice idea,” perhaps after seeing the reflection of the Himalayas on the Himalayan Windows. This incident has somehow re-strengthened her concept of architecture being universal.

THE NARRATION AND THE METHOD The story of the building tries to represent Norway and connect it with Nepal; hence it is not surprising that the architect tries to go after pictures in a narrative manner. Thus, before entering the building, one would cross a water pool with a small wooden bridge and a water fall to its left. Water, an element found in abundance in Nepal as in Norway, acts as a central element to segregate and at the same time binds the exterior to the interior, through the wooden bridge into the building. The stone walls represent the mountains and have flat surfaces or plateaus at certain intervals with greenery. The entire complex, including the Himalayan Window, tells a story of the mountains, their plateaus, the rivers, lakes and bridges, in Nepal and at the same time showcases its similarities to Norway. Towards the back of the building is what can only be described as an inner chowk (courtyard), somewhat similar to the traditional planning pattern of Nepal. In fact some features of traditional Nepali architecture have been used in this building, but with a slight twist. The floor to ceiling folding doors separating the chowk and the meeting room gives an option of bringing the outside in and vice versa. These two areas combined can seat


© Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter


as many as 120 people at a time. The chowk is bound on one side by the stairwell which leads to the double-storied part of the complex. Another feature of Nepali architecture used, and with modifications again, is the wooden louvers and frames which make up for many portions of the wall. All of the wooden details, including the louvers, the door and window frames, and the wall panelling are done using locally available wood. In fact almost all the construction materials, fixtures and labour used were locally sourced. The only supplies that were specifically brought in were the communications and security equipments from Norway and special light fixtures from India. The construction details of the project were executed by the local consultant, Archiplan, who according to Kristin, “did a huge job,” specifically regarding the details and the workability in the local context, which the foreign consultants were not particularly familiar with. One of such slight modifications was the change in the roof structure. With the heavy monsoons in Nepal, the roof structure and its maintenance had to be thought over in a more detailed manner, thus deciding to maintain an inclination of 14 degrees in the roofline. When asked if she was satisfied with such changes, Kristin answers that she is not unfamiliar with such a situation. Coming from a country of extreme climate, she often finds herself thinking about the 'lucky architects' of southern Europe “who can make such thin walls and with single glazing". But in a country like Norway or Nepal, detailing and specifications are important to make the building survive its extreme weather.

THE ROLE OF ARCHIPLAN The local consultants, Archiplan, can only be described as the intermediate force behind the whole process. After being approached by the designing firm, Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter, Archiplan’s initial involvement was to make a detailed survey of the campus, which included everything from existing buildings to drains, vertical land profile, position of trees and electric poles, and a compilation of all the relevant bye-laws. The process adopted for this project was probably rather unique, since both the firms were new to such collaborations. It became more of a learning experience for both. While the Norwegian firm was familiarized with the local context, its Nepalese counterpart learnt what precisely was expected of them in terms of the European aesthetic values. The collaboration was initiated in January 2006 thereafter which the conceptual designs were formulated by April/ May of the same year. The next stage of involvement for the local consultants was to convert this initial concept into formatted drawings to be presented to the municipality for approval, where again the byelaws for embassy buildings were not clearly defined. Sometime in July 2006 the detailed design started, where the 9000 sq ft building was featured in every aspect of its construction. Since the foreign architects were not familiar with the contemporary materials and construction technology in Nepal, it is quite safe to say that the Norwegian firm had to depend a lot on the local consultant in this regard. July-August 2010



‘I was so proud on behalf of the Nepalese builders, as they are in lack of so much – electricity, fuel, the environment, but despite that, the detailing are so neatly done. I don’t think I would ever manage to get such a nice detailing on a Norwegian building site.’ – Kristin Jarmund


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"Present architecture should represent now, link to history and should search for the future. History of architecture is a wonderful novel consisting of a lot of chapters and today is another chapter. Each period has its characteristics, but the best examples are the ones where you can read the history of where it comes from and can also see some sight of the future. And you can't do that if you make copies of Bhaktapur." – Kirstin Jarmund

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“IN A COUNTRY OF 27 MILLION PEOPLE, WHERE 95% OF THEM ARE MAKING THEIR OWN HOUSES, AND FOREIGN COMMERCIAL BUSINESSES ARE BRINGING IN THEIR OWN CONSULTANTS, WHAT IS THE ARENA THAT IS LEFT FOR NEPALESE PROFESSIONALS? I DON’T KNOW, BUT I FEEL THAT IT MUST BE QUITE LIMITED.” Architect Kristin Jarmund established her firm, Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter in 1985, and kicked off her architectural career by winning commissions through competitions and awards. Her website lists at-least 42 awards and competitions, won between 1985 to 2009. These competitions are an excellent practice in the architectural history of Norway, as Kristin points out that though Norway is a democratic society, the building sector is a predominantly male branch. She is one of the very few female architects in Scandinavia, having her own firm. Initially, when she did not have a network, competitions were the best ways for her to get commissions. The architectural scene in Norway has several competitions every year, open and invited, where young and talented architects find their opportunities. Most competitions are for public buildings, schools and some offices. The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, is Kristin’s first project outside Norway and was fittingly awarded to her after winning an invited competition. But the competition procedure for the embassy was much different than that for most other competitions. She had not visited the site before the competition, nor was she required to present any specific design, but rather, the competition was awarded based on written essays dealing with answers to analysis of handling the job in different conditions. Some of the renowned projects by Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter are: • The Justervesenet Laboratory and Office Building, which received the Houens Fond Award • Nydalen Metro Station, Oslo, awarded the Norwegian Lighting Award in 2005 for the ‘Tunnel of Light’ – with 1800 inbuilt neon lights and 44 loudspeakers around the escalator, and also nominated for the Mies van der Rohe award in 2006. • The Raholt School set in a rural agricultural landscape. • The New Café at the French Hall of the National Gallery, Oslo.

Details were prepared and sent to Norway for approval with suggested changes if any. The Norwegian firm would then discuss the proposed changes and send in their decision, which would again be worked on in terms of constructability. One can see that the entire process was rather tedious. Architect Biresh Shah of Archiplan mentions that this project was a huge leap in space and time. The way one would think about a building in Norway and in Nepal were drastically different. Nonetheless the essence of the original design was never changed. Even with all the minor changes, the building’s original character and design, especially in terms of its form and aesthetics were maintained. This was the aim and also a major part of local consultant’s contribution towards the project. Another aspect of Archiplan’s involvement was to provide estimates, and also to design the building services. In November 2006 the first set of working drawings and estimates were completed and were put to table for discussion, where the contractors were also selected. The construction contract was thereby awarded to Sharma and Company and by December 2006, the construction was well on its way.

In many projects Kristin is concerned with the classic modern icons like contrast, using the feeling of closed and openness, which is a very important part of her design conception. Another important aspect is the use of light and colours, in a way that is both original and distinct.


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When we asked Ar. Biresh Shah as to what was his reaction to the design, he answers that the building is a very important addition to the contemporary architectural scene of Kathmandu. But if he were to have designed it, he would have probably designed a slightly more vertically stacked form instead of a horizontal one, since the land is a limited resource in the city and a smaller footprint on the available Site would have been a natural response. The building itself has been termed “craft, expressed in a different way”, by Architect Sarosh Pradhan of Sarosh Pradhan and Associates, where one can see beautiful expressions within the material, and without the more common styles of ornamentation. This is defined by Kristin as an attempt to refine and detail the wood and stone works with “precision and skill” - a kind of craft where the refining is done within the materials as far as possible in their aesthetic vocabulary. The materials and the context play an important role in any design process as they certainly have at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and to quote the architect herself, “It is a professional responsibility to understand the local context.”


LOCAL PLAYERS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS: Local A/E Consultant: Archiplan Pvt. Ltd., Contractor: Sharma and Company Pvt. Ltd., Aluminium doors and windows: Skylight P. Ltd., General Lighting: Wipro/Decon/North West; Rep: Multitec Trade Circle, Kathmandu Travertine (Egyptian Marble): New Marble Plaza, Kathmandu CREDITS: Interview with Ar. Kristin Jarmund, Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter, Oslo, Norway Interview with Ar. Biresh Shah, Archiplan, Kathmandu, Nepal ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kathmandu, Nepal Ar. Sarosh Pradhan, Sarosh Pradhan and Associates, Kathmandu, Nepal

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Tallest Tower Text: Ar. Bansri Pandey Images: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Tallest buildings - how they stack up

Architectural monuments are the backbone of Dubai’s success in transiting from depleting oil-based economy to a flourishing marketbased economy. Now once again, with Burj Khalifa piercing the sky at 828m, Dubai has proven its urge for architectural & engineering excellence. Aspired by His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, supported by Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, designed by SOM (Skidmore, Ownings & Merril LLP), developed by Emaar Properties and constructed by Samsung C&T, Besix, Turner and Arbatec, Burj Khalifa breaks all existing records of skyscrapers. It has won the title of ‘the world’s tallest architectural top’ by being 320m taller than the former winner ‘Taipei 101’ at Taiwan. It has also achieved the distinction of being ‘the world’s tallest structure’ by surpassing the KVLY-TV mast which is at 628.8m. The tower has beaten the 31-year old record of ‘the world’s tallest free-standing structure’ held by C. N. Tower which is at 533.33m. Burj Khalifa is of no exception too. It has overcome tremendous challenges technically, socially and economically to reach where it stands tall today. While the height may be the obvious reason for the tower to attract the attention of the world, it is its unique design that truly sets it apart. This ambitious scheme attracted the world’s most esteemed designers to an invited design competition. Ultimately, the honour of designing the world’s tallest tower was awarded to the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merril LLP (SOM).


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‘The buttressed core’ Y-shaped plan, where each of the three wings support the other two.

THE SHAPE Most residential towers are typically designed on a rectangular plan, so that two rows of apartments can have windows and a corridor in the middle. Analysis shows that these types of buildings are very strong in the long direction but not so strong in the short direction. There is a limit to how high that kind of building could go.

The shape of the tower and the patterning of its floor plates is inspired by the desert flower Hymenocallis' spidery layered form.

Thus, SOM adopted an innovative structural system called 'the buttressed core'. Burj Khalifa has three wings arranged in a Y-shape. This way, one wing buttresses the other two wings. In the very centre, there’s a hexagonal concrete core that acts as a giant axle and houses all elevators. The setbacks occur at the end bay of each ‘wing’ in an upward-spiralling pattern, decreasing the mass of the tower as it reaches towards the sky. Rising strong from the flat desert base, the Y-shape of the building also maximizes views of the Arabian Gulf. Influence of Islamic arches and shapes can be observed in the design. The shape of the tower and the patterning of its floor plates refer its inspiration to the desert flower Hymenocallis' spidery layered form. This concept is narrated to the visitors by the beautiful landscape around the tower garnished with Hymenocallis flowers.


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THE SPIRALLING SETBACKS OF THE TOWER NOT ONLY PROVIDE A SMOOTH LOAD PATH, BUT THE ‘Y’ SHAPED PLAN ALSO HELPS TO ‘CONFUSE THE WIND’, THEREBY HELPING TO REDUCE THE WIND FORCES ON THE TOWER. STRUCTURE The tower utilizes high performance concrete as its primary material. The superstructure is supported by a large reinforced concrete mat, which is in turn supported by bored reinforced concrete piles. The 1.5m diameter x 43m long piles represent the largest and longest piles conventionally executed in the region. The spiralling setbacks of the tower are organized with the tower’s grids, such that the building's stepping is accomplished by aligning columns above with walls below to provide a smooth load path. In addition to its aesthetic and functional advantages, the spiralling ‘Y’ shaped plan helps to reduce the wind forces on the tower, as well as to keep the structure simple for easy construction. During the design process, engineers rotated the building 120 degrees from its original layout to reduce stress from prevailing winds. Now, wind never gets organized over

the height of the building because at each new tier the wind encounters a different building shape. This way, the stepping and shaping of the tower also has the effect of ‘confusing the wind’. Since people cannot be expected to walk down 2909 stairs from the 160th floor to the ground level in an emergency, the tower is highly compartmentalized for fire safety and evacuation needs. There are pressurized, air-conditioned refuge floors located approximately at every 35 floors, where people can shelter on their long walk down to safety in case of an emergency or fire. One of the building’s service/fireman’s elevators has a capacity of 5500 kg and will be the world’s tallest elevator of any type. Double deck cabs have a capacity for 21 persons on each deck. A total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators are installed for the efficiency of vertical transportation.

A large reinforced concrete mat supports the superstructure which in turn is supported by 1.5m dia x 43 m long piles


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The tower has exclusive sky lobbies with breathtaking views.



Burj Khalifa – a 50,00,000 sqft mixed-use development is designed to hold up to 35,000 people at any one time. Concourse level to level 8, level 38 and 39 will feature the Armani Hotel. Levels 9 to 16 will exclusively house luxurious one and two bedroom Armani Residences. Floors 45 through 108 are private ultra-luxury residences. The corporate suites occupy most of the remaining floors, except for level 122 which houses a restaurant and level 124, the tower's public observatory.

Any tall building is put to a practical test when its construction breaks the ground. Over 45,000m3 of concrete, weighing more than 110,000 tonnes were used to construct the concrete and steel foundation. Designing the consistency of concrete that could withstand the extreme pressures of the massive building as well as Persian Gulf temperatures that can reach 50 °C in day time was a difficult task. To combat this problem, the concrete was not poured during the day. Instead, during the summer months, ice was added to the mixture and it was poured at night when the air was cooler with high humidity.

To enhance community living in the sky, the tower has exclusive sky lobbies on levels 43, 76 and 123 that feature state-of-the-art fitness facilities. The sky lobbies on level 43 and 76 additionally house jacuzzi, swimming pools and recreational rooms. Both pools open to the outside, offering residents an unparalleled experience of swimming from inside to the outside balcony. The interior design of public areas in Burj Khalifa was led by awardwinning designer Nada Andric from SOM. It elegantly blends Islamic traditions while glorifying the building's status as a global icon. The design features glass, stainless steel, polished dark stones, silver travertine flooring, venetian stucco walls, handmade rugs and stone flooring. Over 1,000 pieces of art by prominent Middle Eastern and international artists will add charm in the interiors.

Executed with 22 million man hours by workers representing more than 100 different nationalities, Burj Khalifa became a symbol of international collaboration. To achieve the efficiencies in the mechanical, electrical and plumbing services, they were developed in coordination with the architect, structural engineer and other consultants. The tower's peak electrical demand is 36mW, equal to about 360,000, 100 Watt bulbs operating simultaneously. The tower's water system supplies an average of 946,000 liters of water daily. At peak cooling, Burj Khalifa will require about 10,000 tons of cooling in a day, equal to the cooling capacity provided by about 10,000 tons of melting ice.

FLOOR – USE 160 upwards – Mechanical; 156-159 – Communication & Broadcasting; 155 – Mechanical; 139-154 – Corporate Suites; 136-138 – Mechanical; 125-135 – Corporate Suites; 124 – At the top, Burj Dubai, 123 – Sky lobby; 122 – Atmosphere, Burj Dubai; 111-121 – Corporate Suites; 109-110 – Mechanical; 77-108 – Residential; 76 – Sky lobby; 73-75 – Mechanical; 44-72 – Residential; 43 – Sky lobby; 40-42 – Mechanical; 38-39 – Armani Hotel Suites; 19-37 – Residences; 17-18 – Mechanical; 9-16 – Armani Residences; 1-8 – Armani Hotel; Concourse – Armani Hotel; B1-B2 – Parking, Mechanical

Dubai's hot, humid climate combined with the building's cooling requirements create a significant amount of condensation. This water is collected and drained in a separate piping system to a holding tank in the basement car park. The condensate collection system provides about 15 million gallons of supplement water per year, equal to about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. July-August 2010




THE GLASS FACADE The tower accomplished a world record for the highest installation of an aluminium and glass façade at a height of 512 meters. The exterior cladding consists of 26,000 panels of reflective glazing with aluminium and textured stainless steel panels with vertical tubular fins. Because of these reflective glass panels, the building changes its colour in different times of the day, capturing the stunning moments of the sky.


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LONG CONSIDERED AS THE UNDISPUTED INDUSTRY LEADER OF SUPER TALL BUILDINGS, SOM (SKIDMORE, OWNINGS & MERRIL LLP) HAS DESIGNED AND ENGINEERED FIVE OF THE TOP 10 WORLD’S TALLEST BUILDINGS INCLUDING BURJ KHALIFA, NANJING GREENLAND FINANCIAL CENTER, TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL & TOWER - CHICAGO JIN MAO AND WILLIS TOWER (FORMERLY SEARS TOWER). In an interview with the writer, George J. Efstathiou, Managing Partner of SOM said, “Skyscrapers are getting higher, better and faster. All of our designs of tall buildings are in different locations and with different cultural context. Each of them has given us immense scope to experiment and explore new ideas. Seven years ago when we won the design competition and received the commission for the Burj Khalifa, it was one of our most exciting moments. And then, to see seven years of hard work and efforts of the 90 people at our Chicago office being celebrated on 4th January, 2010 with a grand inauguration of Burj Khalifa, gave us one of the most moving experiences. It was a feeling of accomplishment.”

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ARCHITECTURAL THESIS WORKS – 2009, KEC Text and Compilation: Amir Maharjan, KEC

The 'Architectural Thesis Project', as prescribed in the Bachelor Degree of Architecture at Tribhuvan University, can be considered to be an interesting academic project for the tenth semester of the 'Bachelors in Architecture' Program. It provides an excellent opportunity to the students to demonstrate their research and analysis in combination with their design. The deep study in the different topics according to the interest of the student and their design regarding the same can be regarded as the best platform for them to present their skills, concepts and design theories. Though the project is fully academic, they can prove their capabilities in professional works by demonstrating skills, including modelling works and analytical investigation. The thesis topics are chosen by the students themselves and professional architects are assigned to them as supervisors so that they can be directed properly to research, analyze and produce their design concepts. As we know, the design and concepts are not comparable. But several criteria are maintained to categorize the standards of the concepts and designs, so that by fulfilling these criteria, the following eight designs are chosen as top 8 theses in ranking for B.Arch. program 2066 B.S. from KEC (Kathmandu Engineering College).

Center for Fine Arts

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Center for Fine Arts

Niraj Dhoj Joshi secured the title of College Thesis Topper. He completed his internship from Sewa’s Consortium (P) Ltd., Jhochey, Kathmandu and is currently involved in Astra Development Network Pvt. Ltd., Tripureswor, Kathmandu.

CONCEPT: Art enables us to experience the past, see the present and anticipate the future. This project attempts to capture the essence of pattern of addition and transformation. It will become a point for place for artists, artisans, art lovers, crafters, creators, browsers, sellers and buyers to come together, to share their work, to stay in touch. To bring a sense of community to the local area and within the Art Centre, the design uses different aspects of social interaction and services that will cater to the public and the artists' needs. An art exhibition area and park are provided for displaying art. A cafe is yet another ideal place for lunch breaks and social meetings, and the artists can use the cafe for prospective client interaction. An art supply and a copy centre are provided to help with the artist’s needs for materials and self-promotion, as well as any needs of the public.


Semi Public Areas Public Areas Kirtipur Hall

Supporting Areas

Site Slop

Chobar Hill




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Space Museum, Sainbu, Lalitpur CONCEPT: The design was literally initiated by the stars! By studying the positions of the stars (represented by monthly sky maps), over a period of one year, a flow chart of their movement was derived. This study was further simplified by representing this flow chart in four geometric shapes (and not using the position and movement of all the stars!). These four shapes, marked by the brightest stars in the sky, represent the respective seasons; hence called the Summer Triangle, the Autumn Square, the Winter Triangle and the Spring Curve. This flowchart then serves as a basis for the planning of the ‘Space Museum’, where some forms of the seasonal shapes create the mass or the blocks while some create plazas and platforms.

Swati Pujari graduated from Kathmandu Engineering College, Tribhuvan University, in 2009. She was awarded the title of ‘Faculty Topper’ in her batch of Architecture – 2003, KEC. She has completed her internship from Sarosh Pradhan and Associates, Kathmandu and is currently involved in Spatial Design Company, Kupondole. She is also the Editorial Assistant of SPACES, Art Architecture Design.

Another important aspect of the design is the circulation, which is in a sequential order. The visitors are directed in a designed pattern guiding them through different aspects of Astrology and Space Science as well as that of fantasy and fiction. The form of the complex is derived from the imagination of a crashing flying saucer. The crash is divided into frames, as if reviewing it in a video, and three individual frames are conceived as the three individual blocks of the complex, connected by a tubular gallery. This tubular gallery represents not only the motion curve of the crash but that of the initially explained flow chart. These flying saucers make the three highlighting metallic parts of the blocks and the rest of the walls are used to support the ‘saucers’ and to complete the structure.

MASTER PLAN LEGEND 1 Main Entrance 2 Drop-Off Point 3 Entrance to Underground Parking 4 Underground Parking 5 Entrance to the Museum 6 Block 1 (Auditorium & Galleries) 7 Linear Gallery 8 Block 2 (Galleries/Thematic Hall) 9 Plaza 1 10 Decks 11 Ramps Leading to Planetarium 12 Sunden Deck - Entrance to Planetarium 13 Block 3 (Planetarium) 14 Service Entrance 15 Entrance to Office Block 16 Block 4 (Offices/dormitory/ Restaurant) 17 Plaza 2


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Green Bank CONCEPT: ‘GREEN BANK’, sited at Rotary Club, Thapathali, Kathmandu, is a building complex that is designed to function as a bank’s headquarter which also has a banking branch office in its complex. At the same time, the design also tries to address the burning issues of energy-efficiency and sustainability. In this aspect, Green Bank strives to balance Design and Responsibility.

Preetesh Karki, graduated from Kathmandu Engineering College (2009), completed his internship at Sewas Consortium Pvt. Ltd. and is now working as an architect at Clean Developers Private Limited, Naxal. He also teaches as an assistant lecturer at Kathmandu Engineering College.

Bank branches are normally service oriented; welcoming a lot of customers every day akin to the movable money shops in ancient days, whereas a headquarter tries to establish itself as a landmark to gain a high corporate image comparable to the banks housed in ancient fortified palaces. Since the "GREEN BANK" consists both of these archetypes, the tactful synchronization between these two forces was a challenge in the design. Buildings for banks in today’s context, with its changing functions need not be a fortified and impenetrable structure as in the past, barring a few sensitive areas of the bank, the rest function as normal offices. Hence the design attempts to cope up with this change with the concept of: 'In Search of Transparency’, where Transparency can be functional, physical as well as visual.




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Greensblog NAC Complex

Sweta Amatya has completed her Bachelors of Architecture from Kathmandu Engineering College in 2009. She had worked as trainee architect at Mr. and Mrs. Kayastha and Associates Pvt. Ltd., Kupondole, Lalitpur. Currently, she is working at C.E. Construction Pvt. Ltd., Tripureshwor, Kathmandu.

CONCEPT: Greensblog – NAC Complex is a live project for the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), sited at Sinamangal, Kathmandu.

The Complex comprises of the headquarters of NAC, rentable office building, recreational building and a hall, all as per the requirements of NAC. The concept of the design has been influenced by the following three aspects derived from the preliminary studies and site references: Interactive Interface or a responsive interface reflecting to buildings and spaces while responsive towards the social and environment entities. Here; Interface + Response = Interactive Interface Conscious creation of spaces for social milieu Dialogue between building and environment. Reflection of the concept can be felt in the design through plaza spaces, building orientation and the curvilinear landscaping bonding the different entities. Further, consideration of certain green elements has facilitated the design to pace in environment responsiveness. The green concepts incorporated are - Site sustainability, Water efficiency, Energy efficiency, Indoor environment quality, The principals and elements used in considering the form of the building are –Transparency, Mass and void, Greenery within, Roof garden etc. In conclusion, this design has envisioned to create office complex that respond well with social enhancement and to some extend with environment too.







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School of Dance and Research Center

Pramila Madhikarmi is a graduate from Kathmandu Engineering College, Tribhuvan University (2009). As a student, she completed her internship at Development E-ffort Pvt. Ltd., Kupondol and after study she was engaged in Geometrix Pvt. Ltd., Baghbazar. She is currently employed at Sunrise Apartment, Nakhkhu.

CONCEPT: The concept for the design of 'School of Dance and Research Center' is the 'Expression' to understand ‘Dance’ and ‘Architecture’. As a performing art, dance is as a form of expression. The major factors to understand dance is music and body gesture, expressed through rhythm, harmony, composition, balance, etc. Similarly, architecture, a creative art, is understood through design principles like rhythm, balance, harmony, etc. Hence, the common principles form 'expressions', a reflection of social, cultural, aesthetic, artistic and functional movement. The design is primarily guided by this 'expression' as the resultant of these principles.

The site is divided into two parts, with an intention of dividing it in the aspects of Music and Body Gesture. The left part consists of performing areas like performing theatre, open air theatre and recreational areas like canteen, gallery, etc. – representatives for music. Similarly, the right part consists of official buildings like administration, academic, research blocks, etc. which are arranged in rhythmic pattern with reference to the dividing axis to represent body gestures. When one enters the site, one is faced by the abstract form of Natyashwor, a sculpture composed of lines which with its revolving mechanism enhances the sense of motion present in the buildings around it. The form of every individual building in the complex is an “expression” based on the common principles of Dance and Architecture. They are composed together to create balance, rhythm and harmony for visual pleasantness.

MASTER PLAN LEGEND 1. Parking 2. Administration 3. Academic Block 4. Dance Studio 5. Research Block 6. Researchers' Quarters

7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Open Air Theatre Gallery Canteen Performing Theatre Guard House Sculpture of Natyashwor



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HIV/AIDS Center CONCEPT: The project is generated due to needs of the HIV infected people, and the main objective is to full fill those needs, identified as awareness, treatment and rehabilitation facilities.

Anisha Rajbhandari residence of Pyaphal, completed her Bachelors in Architecture from Kathmandu Engineering College, Tribhuvan University in 2009 and is currently practicing architecture at CE Services P. Ltd., Tripureshwor, Kathmandu.

Though many organizations are working towards treatment and prevention, the care and support provided to the people living with HIV/ AIDS (PLWHA) is limited. Hence this project is designed with the intent of helping them become physically, psychologically and socially capable. All the aspects of treatment and living with HIV/ AIDS are defined by the Red Ribbon which is also the symbol for solidarity and awareness. This positive symbol serves as the basis for planning. The symbol has two parts, the V facing outwards is taken as the extrovert part, serving as the public area of the complex, the loop on the other hand introvert forming the enclosed main interacting space and lined by vocational blocks, nursery and living quarters. The intersection of the two is identified as the 'Common Interest' and the area is occupied by the medical block. Another important aspect in the design is the use of Sun as a healing element, by including sunlight as far as possible in the lives of PLWHA. The prime concern of this scheme is to provide a secure environment for the infected using architecture as a means to enable them and to motivate them to think out of the box.

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School of Newari Music

Manoj Shrestha residence of Lazimpat, completed his Bachelors in Architecture from Kathmandu Engineering College and is currently practicing architecture at Pumori Engineering Services P. Ltd., handling projects such as office building, commercial complex etc.

CONCEPT: Newars are a linguistic community with multiple ethnicity/race and faith, bound together by a common language – Nepal Bhasa. Their rich tradition comprises of classical and folk music and dance which are important aspects of festivals in Newari life. It is believed that there were once 400 types of original music, but today only 260 instruments are found, amongst which 75 instruments are exclusively related to Newar religion.

These instruments can be classified into 4 classes according to Sangeet Sastra. Membranophone - Dhimay, Dhah, Paschima, Naya Khin Idiophone - Bhussya, Chhusya, TainNain Chordophone - Piwancha Aerophone - Muhali, Neeko, Bwa: Dhoka Tole, ward no. 19 is located in a core area surrounded by Nyetepacho, Damai Tole, Dhoka Tole and Dallu; it is also an intersection for various festival routes, making this a profound and appropriate location for 'School of Newari Music'

The facility comprises of three major sections: • The Collection Sector collects musical instruments, audio visual records, photographs etc, and is also a base for communities playing such music etc. Any student is free to observe the instruments or people playing them in this sector. • The Interpretation Sector comprises of the classrooms, rehearsal rooms, practice rooms, recording rooms and library. The teaching and studying systems reflects the traditional style of living and learning where the guru disseminates the education to the students. • The Dissemination Sector consists of the research unit, auditorium and open air theatre. The research unit is an important part of the sector as it not only creates the study course for the school but also tries to research and reestablish the lost traditional music. MASTER PLAN


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Centre for the Moving Image CONCEPT: 'Centre for the Moving Image' is a museum for motion picture, proposed at Balaju Industrial District, Ward No. 16, 5 km north-west of Kathmandu.

Gauri Prajapati graduated in architecture in 2009 from Kathmandu Engineering College, Tribhuvan University and is currently involved in CEDA Consultant, and RBR Consultant.

The visions for the complex are identified as follows: • To identify the strength and weakness of the existing equipment in Nepali cinema • To foster the image of the country and city by providing all information regarding Nepali film industry • To preserve Nepali cinema in a properly managed and technical form The concept of ‘Imagebility’ is used in the design. Imagebility is defined as ‘the ability for the physical objects of our environment to evoke an image that is recognizable and meaningful to a general population of an area.’ This concept is guided by the following two principles: FUSION: Bringing different activities in a single platform RHYTHM: Symbolised through existing contour lines and the curved walls The buildings themselves reflect the meaning and give identity. So, the guiding principles: fusion of activities and rhythm of form and material gives the image and meaning. The supporting elements, like the curve walls are like the cinema screen enveloping the visitors as they enter the museum, whereas the facade of liquid crystal display panels with moving images gives an identity to the building.

LEGEND 1. International Film Block 2. Entertainment Block 3. Nepali Film Block 4. Custom Display, Library Block 5. Documentary Display, Canteen Block 6. Life Musem, Admin. Block

7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Multi Purpose Hall Parking Ticket Counter Open Plaza Sculpture Garden Guard House

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Kathmandu Valley, an overview of the urban fabric Source: Kathmandu Metropolitan City

Public Open Spaces of Kathmandu Text: Ar. Shailita Manandhar Joshi

Public Open spaces are where people discover the value and benefits of public life. These actually authenticate the city’s image and identity. The squares and streets of Kathmandu core are the foremost in advocating this reality. These are actually the places for social activities and maturing of culture itself. As such, these are the testimony to the city’s evolution, glory and also its decline. These are not only the breathing spaces of the city but are the places for interplay between people, activities, movement and urban forms. Moreover, these are the open air theatres for an array of displays: from the complex festivals, to the expertise of trade, to the frozen artistry of the astounding monuments that quietly shape these premier urban open spaces. However, with the rapid pace of development, social shifting and subsequent commercialization, the image of these places is being lost into a characterless chaos. There seems a need of a Vision for the whole city reinforced by comprehensive strategies and measures that can be dealt at local level which will help in bringing these places back to the people. Moreover, the remarkable design philosophies of these spaces confirming to the visual and functional principles could actually be the logical paradigm for future urban design of the city.


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A typical Malla Period Street and Space System Source: Author

The traditional public spaces of Kathmandu confer a sense of place and were designed with Urban Design perfection to allow perceptual patterning for the common people. The dominant surviving city form and architectural elements of today actually represents the legacy of the Newars which matured in the Malla period. The city was characterized by the hierarchical layout of neighborhoods arranged with the palace as the centre and river as the edge. The other edge of course was the Tundikhel, which for a long time had been saved from development perhaps by the fear of fabled Gurumapa. However, the need for defense and saving the precious fertile land for agriculture actually resulted in a compact courtyard oriented settlement. The urban fabric was shaped by the squares and streets, the major concentration of public life:

THE STREETS A hierarchical system of streets ran along the city core. The streets were non axial but also not curved as in most historical cities; these were a series of short straights. The reason behind their geometry was their originality as Trans-Himalayan trade routes along with the uneven topography and their alignment to major shrines. The streets were not just mere conduits but were the vibrant public places with activities like continuous social exchanges, festivals, rituals and commerce. The scale of the incessant edge of the lining buildings with ornamental semi permeable fenestrations and permeable shop fronts actually accentuated and evoked the safe pedestrian environment at the street level.

Primary Street from Indrachowk to Asan Source: Author

Basantapur – an example of the Urban Design of the place in accordance with its socio cultural needs: 1. Open Plat forms for performance, 2. High plinths for vertical space flow of audience’s realm

THE HIERARCHY OF SPATIAL SYSTEM The major streets (i.e. the festival/ chariot routes) ran across the heart of the core, intersecting at the palace square. Other streets intersected these streets to bulge into human scaled public squares, like the Asan and Indra Chowk Squares. The squares functioned as major urban centres and were marked with many urban elements acting as the guiding landmarks:

elements like statued pillars. This square confirmed to the viable image of a public open space by the virtue of concentration of an array of activities in the form of major cultural proceedings like festivals and socio-political gatherings.

i.The Palace Square This was the major public square shaped by the edges of the palace complex along with a flaunt of temples, raised performance platforms and speckled by

The palace square actually acted as an open air theatre, uniquely achieved by the demarcation, hierarchy and vertical flow of spaces within spaces. This was achieved by:

- Raising the plinths of the temples to multi-levels for vertical space flow: the street seating and audience’s realm during festivals. - Provision of raised platforms (dabu:) for performances and also as a transition between street level and temples. - Provision of various grades of intimate squares within the larger square, aiming for variety of choices for the users by maintaining the human scale. July-August 2010



Makhan, adjacent to the hanumandhokha palace complex is a market space with changing geometry due to its recent encroachment Source: Author

radiated from the palace nucleus, laid out in a hierarchy of blocks, often maintained with prescriptions determined by occupation and often confused with caste hierarchy. From the streets, the alleyways, often through the buildings, lead to the inner neighborhood courtyards. These were either the community courtyards of certain occupation groups or the Baha:s and Bahi:s of Buddhist Monastic genre. These courtyards provided the types of infrastructure corresponding to the needs of those in the neighborhood. These functioned for multi-activities like


ii. The Market / Civic Squares These were the major Market nodes for mercantile exchanges. Moreover, these were the public places for daily socializing, foyer for squares beyond and collection space during earthquakes, often marked by temples and structures of religious and landmark values. The visual anticipation is often provoked by a decent architectural element at the mouth of the square leading to the dynamism of a major monument of high architectural value land marking the square. iii. The Neighborhood Squares or Community Courtyards People lived in communities, both socially and physically. A system of neighborhoods


Accesibility: Unobstructed easy access from, to and through the spaces: - Number of entry points linking the square to important streets and other squares. - Visual and physical access from and to adjacent buildings

4 1. Yatkha Bahal now 2. Yatkha Bahal during an annual feast Source - GTZ and UDLE, 1995 3. A Normal day in Ta Bahal 4. Activities at Itum Bahal

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ESTABLISHING THE SQUARES AND STREETS OF CORE KATHMANDU AS VIABLE PUBLIC OPEN SPACES Public open spaces are all places which have easy access to the abstract entity called the “people� and not just to an individual person. So, a public open space is not just a green void but an active and responsive place stimulating interactions and activities. Many books and writers have concluded that the success of a Public Open Space is determined by proper accessibility, ascertained activities and suitable amenities along with other qualities like variety, richness etc.. Originally, the squares and streets of Kathmandu had certain qualities, functions and characteristics that bestow upon them the Image of Successful Public Open Spaces:



the lacchi. These spaces were formed by setting back of buildings along the street at certain strategic points. These spaces were for making offerings to the chariot during the festivals. Sometimes some public rest house, water spouts or wells were placed at these spaces.

the feasts, drying of grains, play area for children, specific religious and communal proceedings, collection during hazards and even for washing clothes, sun bathing and mere gossiping. Most suitably, tu:nthi (community well), jaroo (water tank), orchestra pavilion, Buddhist Votive stupas and shrines marked these spaces. More often, a variety of more private family courtyards called the nani, chuka: and ke:ba in local language were located deeper inter-connected with the neighbourhood squares. Also, some private courtyards with arcane shrines were also there. iv. The Transitional Spaces Added to the Public and Community spaces, there were also transitional semi private/public spaces, sometimes called

Activities: Active users give life to the spaces making them proper places: - The squares bring diverse people together for the overall participation. - Activities range from that of specific times like festivals and day to day socializing, worshipping, marketing, just walking or browsing. Amenitities: Various elements of the squares and streets make them successful public spaces: - Temple plinths and public rest houses as street seating. - Public water spouts for collection of water and even for bathing (privacy maintained as are below pedestrian level). - The oil lamps hanging from the second floor eaves acted as street lighting. - Galleries around the temple for refuge during sudden rainfall.

Activities of Streets and Edges in the social context of then and now


limited public use were provided further away from traditional settlement. This trend actually reflects the dissuasion for commoners to gather and socialize in the public spaces.

- Proper pavements for ease of walking. - Landmark elements for legibility of the place. - Squares for escape during hazards like earthquakes.

QUALITY AND VITALITY OF THE EDGE: - Scale and proportion of the edging buildings and monuments in harmony with that of the street and square. - Continuous coherent adorned edge with adequate visual and physical permeability. - Activities at the ground floor in dialogue with that of the corresponding square. Comfort and Safety: Following characters impart the sense of security and ease for the users: - Legible structures and spaces to give a sense of place and direction for movement. - Pleasant streetscape with adequate permeability for psychological comfort. - Compatible activities to discourage too little and too much crowd. - Cultural and civic association of individual with the place.

Asan Square in 1920s: Coherent Roofline and Streetscape Source: GTZ and UDLE, 1995

Variety and Choice: - Squares of differing hierarchy for different degree of activities. - Cozy human scaled nooks within the large palatial squares. - Horizontal and vertical flow of choice of spaces along temple galleries, Dabalis and temple plinths.

RICHNESS THROUGH URBAN DIVERSITY: - Landmark elements of differing architectural quality aid in visual respite. - The artistry and aesthetic details of the buildings and sculptures add variety. - Diverse functions all year and all day long: festivals, dances, morning markets, celebrations, strolling and basking. - The sights, sounds and smells of the active daily life.

THE CHANGE AND THE PROBLEM The idea of public open space almost vanished in the next phases of chronology. The Rana system of open spaces was in the form of gardens behind the high walls of Private Palaces. Also, some parks with

Asan Square in 1990s: Building heights dominating the landmark temple, non-uniform heights and Architectural styles of the buildings, losing quality of the Streetscape Source:

The further developments and haste of urbanization actually saw a discreditable amount of thought for public open spaces. The issue of lack of identity, visual pleasantness and social importance is severe in the newly developing/ developed urban areas. Open spaces, if present cover only 2-5% of the developed area whereas traditionally 10% of open space was dedicated within the city core. As a result, people tend to rely on the already overburdened traditional urban spaces converting them into scarred and saturated pockets. The city that is today is actually forcing people to lock themselves up in the private houses as the outdoors is either unsafe or too crowded. Children, mostly, are depending on passive entertainment than active activities. This can actually lead to type II diabetes and premature obesity. The most visible issues regarding the public open spaces can be summarized as follows: • Discontinuation of the historic approach of provision of open spaces, new open spaces not responding to the culture and society, hence are rendered useless. • Population hike, influx of migrants, overburdening of the already heaving public spaces. • Character destruction and misuse of neighborhood open spaces. • Vehicular flow: Unmanaged, mismatching scale, loss of pedestrian quality of spaces. • Traditional public open spaces not adequate to cater the trend of extended outdoor lives of today’s generation. • Overlapping stakeholders and inadequate public participation for management of these spaces. • Reprehensible use of buildings edging these spaces, unmanaged sprawl of hawkers, encroachment. The concept of Public Open Space today is actually divided into “Public Space” and “Open Space”. Many commercially oriented buildings are built for controlled public use, but the foremost concentration is on commercial returns July-August 2010



Crowds and Vehicle Flow at Indrachowk a Traditional Open Space Source: Author

and without response to one other. There seems a dire need of an overall Vision for the whole city accentuated by an Urban Design Vision at micro level. The next step is setting of Urban Design Guidelines for regeneration, design and management of Public Open Spaces. The mentioned approach is actually based on the premise that the guidelines should maintain the historic integrity of the place while allowing for change with contextual suitability. 1. Kasthamandap, the ultimate landmark Source: Mahima Shrestha 2. The Gardens at Kaishar Mahal – A Typical Rana Garden Source: Source: GTZ and UDLE, 1995

than public interest. Also, open spaces in the form of parks and green patches are being built scarcely. Parks function importantly for the ecological balance of the city. Functionally, these do much for the interest of an individual but are far from meeting the needs of the public in general.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Public Open Spaces are actually very important for the well being of the city along with of those using these spaces. The issue of public places is an important socio spatial issue influencing the day to day lives of common people. A public place with a positive image actually helps to impart the civic sense, sagacity and responsibility in an individual. Today, each and every part of the city is hastily growing with blind independence


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The envisaged guidelines shall actually work in a fourfold approach for the Public Open Spaces: i. Strategies and guidelines to replace plain conservation by informed innovation for regeneration of the mentioned historic urban spaces. Key Issues: - Periodic Pedestrianization of squares and streets. - Preserving the architectural and spatial character. - Development control, encouraging compatible activities, management of hawkers. ii. Guidelines and Design recommendations for provision of active/ passive open spaces in proposed new developments. Key Issues: - Provision of 15-20% of open spaces. - Open spaces in the form of Green Parks along with active Public Places. iii. Identification of open spaces that can be, as per their scale, reclaimed into public places/ spaces.

Key Issues: – Reviving places like: Pipalbot – Bhugol Park, the river corridors, squares like Bhimsenthan, Thahiti, Mahabouddha. – Rethinking for places like Sundhara, Ratna Park, Ranipokhari periphery. – Pedestrianizing the streets and pockets like that of Thamel to address the extended outdoor lives of people. – Revitalization and management of religious – quarters like Bhadrakali, Sankata Te:baha. iv. Protection of the scarce Open spaces Key Issues: - Protection of scale, ascertaining of functions and activities of Open spaces like Tundikhel, Tinkune, pocket Gaucharans. - Safeguarding from encroachment and character improvement of chaurs (like Sifal, Lainchaur). - Management of parks and green pockets. - Protection and enrichment of the green belts (play strips, urban farming??)

REFERENCES: • Manandhar, Shailita. Redefining the Image of the Streets of the Historic City Cores: A Case of Kathmandu, MUD Dissertation, The University of Hong Kong, 2005. IMAGE SOURCES: • Bentley, et. all. Responsive Environments: A Manual for Designers. Architectural Press, Oxford, 2003. •

GTZ and UDLE, Images of Century- Changing Townscape of the Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu, 1995

Hosken, F. P. The Kathmandu Valley Towns. Weather hill, New York. Tokyo, 1974.

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© Mahima Shrestha


Like the recently restored Garden of Dreams, much of the open spaces are hidden behind huge walls.

Tundikhel and its enclosure – some parts are inaccessible to the public

Rethinking the Identity of Urban Open Spaces Text: Ar. Swati Pujari with Ar. P. Marhatta

EVERY CITY NEEDS TO BREATHE - THE OPEN SPACES IN THE CITY SERVING AS ITS LUNGS. With increase in population, these open spaces are the first to be the victims of encroachment. Due to the scarcity of space and the ever increasing value for land, the open spaces, especially the prime spaces in the city, take the fancy of builders, developers and investors alike. Besides

free entrance, and cluttered with vendors, both inside the park and in the pathway surrounding it. If we move a little further from this area we can find many green community parks or children's playground in the mixed residential cum commercial parts of the city. Parks like the green garden at Bhatbhateni or the children's playground at Gyaneshwor are all examples of public open spaces converted into community spaces and then fenced using high metal fences, with gates locked with huge and heavy metal locks. The community then finds it easy to discard the gated and locked enclosure which eventually serves neither the particular community nor the general public.

these groups, the vendors infiltrate and encroach much of these already scarce spaces. Hence we can see that much of the open spaces in Kathmandu are either packed with vendors, both inside the space and on its edges, rendering the place congested (case in point – Ratna Park and the walkway surrounding it) or these spaces are hidden behind huge walls, with either no or charged entry to the public (green gardens like Garden of Dreams, the Central Zoo etc.)

So, where should the dwellers of the urban Kathmandu find the retreat in their daily lives - whether it be to get away from their mundane schedule, for social gatherings or in case of an emergency? It is not very difficult to see that these urban open spaces provide us with a much needed refuge in more ways than one, but unfortunately that potential is often neither understood nor utilized, and sadly the urban spaces of Kathmandu provide us with a very good example of this. If we just take the example of perhaps the most prominent open space in Kathmandu, the Tundikhel, it is indeed unfortunate to see that the entire 'khel' is fenced and has limited entry points and to make matters worse, a huge chunk of it is inaccessible to the general public. Another public space adjacent to Tundikhel is the Ratna Park, a beautiful but un-maintained park, fenced but with


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THE NEED FOR A PUBLIC PLACE When we talk about the encroachment of public spaces, we oftentimes forget the very core essence of the space; that is the activity. It is important to note that it is the activity/ies that give meaning to the space and convert it from a public space to a public place. It is hence important to note that when a public space is encroached the public place is also destroyed. Looking back at the historic settlement of Kathmandu Valley, we can particularly justify the relation between the space and its activities, rendering it an active urban ‘place’. From Chowks to Bahals to Khels, the open spaces of the valley had specific purposes, identifying with individuals as well as communities and the public as a whole.


Today, as the communities are much diverse in nature and have increased not only in size but also in requirement, the need for such ‘public places’ is more than before. An urban public place can correspond to various needs and activities. The importance of open spaces in any city can be highlighted by the following: 

Active urban spaces give a much needed recreational luxury to all the city dwellers Open spaces play an important role in the development of children growing up in a city Active urban spaces provide aesthetic and psychological relief from the urban development The soft paved open spaces account for providing control in surface run off Local flora and fauna can be preserved amidst the urban growth Community rehabilitation in case of disasters, such as the much anticipated earthquake

Vendors along the edges of Ratna Park An enclosed ‘Community Park’ near Gyaneshwor


for fear of aftershocks. They collected food from their houses or the ruins and lived in the chowks as a large family until they felt secure enough to get back with their lives.

Some time back, during an informal talk with Mrs. Tirtha Maya Manandhar, a 98 year old resident of Layekusal, Kathmandu, she happened to mention the devastating earthquake of 1934. After the settlement of the initial distress of the earthquake, individuals in their respective communities came together in their communal chowks (in her case the open space next to their community ‘sal’ or oil mill). Many of the houses were in ruins and the ones that weren’t, were vacant as people were still afraid to move in them

Another such memory is shared by Mr. Satya Mohan Joshi at an interaction program organized by National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) last year. Returning home with his father, after the earthquake, they were devastated at finding their home crumbled down and his mother and new born sibling missing. They were then reunited at an open land where all the neighbouring survivors had gathered. They brought some essentials and spent the next five to seven days

there. Only then were they collected enough to return to the ruins of their homes where they cleaned as much as they could and lived. He also recalls how Patan School was completely destroyed and the classes were conducted nearby, in a tent. Anticipating a similar situation, the Lalitpur Municipality has identified ten evacuation sites within the boundaries of the municipality’s governance, as refuges, in case of an earthquake. These areas include the UN Park at Jwagal, Kupondole, the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) headquarters at Khumaltar, and the Patan Industrial Estate at Lagankhel, amongst others. July-August 2010



The requirements for any space to be referred as a possible refuge can be identified as: 1. Access, both for people as well as emergency vehicles like fire brigades, ambulances etc. 2. Availability of Water 3. Government or community land with no possibility of being built over 4. Presence of some covered spaces which can be used for shelter Certainly the spaces allocated by the municipality correspond to these requirements; they are accessed by roads; have deep bore wells for water; are government or community or unclaimed lands which have almost no possibility of being built over and almost always have some covered space within them. But a major drawback most of these spaces face is in their accessibility - not physically but psychologically. All these spaces are at the periphery of the core city and away from the congestion. They provide easy access only to a limited number of Map of Core City, Patan showing the open spaces available within the core city Base Map Source: Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT)

people in Lalitpur. In the quest of finding these evacuation sites, the municipality seems to have neglected the possibility of finding optimum spaces within the city core, even though the city core of Patan is planned with multiple and hierarchal open spaces. The availability of useable open spaces in nearer proximity and the possibility of converting them into a refuge will discourage people from moving into these pre-planned evacuation sites. The problem lies not only in the physical accessibility of these sites but more so on the willingness of people to access them, away from their homes or the ruins of their homes, where they would one day wish to restart their normal life. As we study the character of some of the larger open spaces in the core city of Patan, it becomes clearer that many of the community chowks and bahals are preferred by the local communities for evacuation and possible shelter during such disasters- and with good reasons too. As we inspect some of these bahals, like the Nagbahal, Binche Bahal and Su Bahal, we find the open spaces are not only large enough to accommodate the surrounding community, but these spaces also fulfil all the requirements, making them a possible evacuation site. These bahals are easily accessible not just by the local community but they have vehicular access, at least adjacent to their outer ring at the farthest and these areas always have stone water conduits which in most cases are running. In case of SuBahal the water conduit has dried out and ground water is drawn at the location which ensures the availability of water for the community, in general as well as in case of an emergency. These bahals are always community spaces which have no possibility of being built over and are always accompanied by patis, phalechas, or similar roofed structures dedicated to the community or


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to a nearby shrine. In such a case, it is too narrow a vision to expect the residents of these areas to seek shelter at any of the municipality’s pre-defined evacuation sites. But that is not to say that these areas are already completely apt to serve as refuges. Minor infrastructure development is required to make them even stronger especially in their access. As mentioned earlier, although road access is present in many cases to the outer ring of the bahals, it is important to strengthen these roads and in some areas, like the road to the north of Su-Bahal, they should be made more comfortable at the turns, especially for access of fire brigades. Many of the entrances into these bahals are from 'laba chen' or houses that provide a section of their ground floor as ways into these bahals. It is important to strengthen these entrances by retrofitting the entrances if not the entire houses. Another huge open space in Patan with an equally huge potential is the Bhandarkhal Garden of the ancient Malla Palace. The flower garden that was used for recreation and for growing flowers to offer to their deities is now in a state of ruin. Although the entire palace complex is slowly being conserved and the Bhandarkhal garden is also a part of this conservation effort, nevertheless this large chunk of open space lying at the heart of Patan is not open to public. The garden can easily be a part of the current Patan Museum, or even a separate entity as a public garden. A remarkable example of such a trend was demonstrated by the Royal Parks of England in the nineteenth century when these private parks were opened to the public as a response to the pressing social need owing to extensive and unexpected movement of population from the countryside to the city. The matters of disaster management and urban need for open spaces cannot always be fulfilled by creating new spaces in the periphery of a city. These new spaces are not only separated from the old sentiments of public connection, but are also more consuming in matters of time and resources. The municipality proposed spaces like the Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus or the football grounds of Lagankhel can and perhaps will be used in case of an earthquake, but these spaces are not 'urban places' in normal circumstances.

Š Mahima Shrestha




MAP: Evacuation Sites and Deep Tube Wells identified by the Lalitpur Sub Metropolitan City Source: Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City 1. Su-Bahal, the courtyards, water supply and access 2. Nag Bahal - The large open space and the running stone water conduit 3. Binche Bahal - The large open courtyard and its accesses


Š Mahima Shrestha

Hence it is important to create not only urban places within the existing community but these spaces should also be strong enough to adapt into an evacuation site in case of a disaster. The open spaces in the core cities are losing their magnetism, and are in fact closing up into an emptiness that locks the people out of these spaces. The fact that the space and the people have almost no interaction decreases the interdependency between these two entities. Developing an urban place in today's complex situation cannot be achieved by the same methods that were useful previously. The spaces have to interact with people and should be flexible enough to accommodate multiple activities. Hence an important step in bringing back a breath of fresh air to Kathmandu is in fact by opening up the 'closed open spaces' of the valley to their users.

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Open space is very scarce and precious natural endowment. Factually our living environment very much depends on it. Any increment of this resource contributes to healthy settlement and decline is very detrimental. Open space system at right scale and in proportion with population size helps to safeguard living environment of a human settlement. In fact it is a defacto lifeline and not something cosmetic to be appreciated visually. Quite often when some resource is depleted it is taken for granted that the latest magic technology will surely replace it. However, this kind of optimism cannot be applied for pristine land resource as it is very much limited on our planet Earth, and which once exhausted, has no substitute at all. Hence, with increased pace of urbanization, as is the case of Kathmandu, conservation of land resource deserves and demands serious consideration. This concern for conservation applies to both protection of open spaces and preservation of urban centres. We have to be vividly clear that this conservational effort is not only meaningful to wilderness areas but is equally valid for protection of our urban environment too.


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Open Spaces (DEFACTO LUNGS) OF KATHMANDU VALLEY Text: Prof. Bharat Sharma

THE PAST The evolution and development of open spaces of urban Kathmandu has a historic logic and firm background in the distant past. The psychological needs of individuals, families and social groups encompassing the society as a whole were all catered to. Thus, the physical urban form well reflected the social needs and hierarchy of the values of the inhabitants. The open space system in the past was more of a socio-cultural product, and hence was deeply rooted in the social-system itself.

the city authority and the Government as per requirements, but in Kathmandu the case was quite unique in the past. Most of the open spaces were created through endowments by individuals or the Guthis. These open spaces in the past were in comfortable proportion with the population. However, over the past three decades, the scenario has dramatically changed and the absorption of open spaces for various trivial and self-centered reasons has been the major accelerating factor to create urban blight.

Throughout the world, open spaces for parks, playgrounds and other amenities are mostly acquired with public funds by

Through the world, open spaces are acquired by the city authority, but in Kathmandu, the absorption of open

© Mahima Shrestha

The historic Rani Pokhari and its surrounding areas has been ruined by the actions of the public sector with utter disregard for its social well being.


As each ropani of our urban open spaces is encroached upon, filled out, levelled and finally built over, we are forced into an even more arbitrary, artificial and precarious relationship with resources upon which we survive.

spaces for various trivial and self-centered reasons has been the primary cause of urban blight. It is very disheartening to note that the rapacious land grabbing of the meagre open spaces of the past heritage is still going on unabated. It is even more agonizing to note that this reckless action is being pursued by the public sectors, specifically by the government itself; perhaps inadvertently with no knowledge of its disastrous consequences. The examples are numerous, such as the Tundikhel, Rani Pokhari, Kamal Pokhari, Sanogauchar, frontal open space around the zoo, spaces around stupas in Patan, Lagankhel and Kathmandu, Chhauni Chaur,etc., all of which are very glaring cases.

THE ‘PUBLIC PURPOSE’ DECEPTION The government in particular and the public in general has to realize that the spread and distribution of open spaces across our urban as well as rural landscape is very essential for the healthy performance dynamics of the Kathmandu Valley. Hence, adequate standards of open spaces are necessary. These spaces act as an antidote for healthy living.

On the global scene it has been generally noticed that spaces devoted for urban recreational purposes range from 3 acres per 1000 population to 10 acres. On top of that, 10% of the gross city area is reserved in the land use to meet future needs. Quite often it is analyzed that the components of open spaces including wet lands should be within the range of 20 to 25 percent of urban ‘area’ to make living condition comfortable and conducive. In our case, nothing of the sort as stated above has been initiated and, in fact, quite often things have gone to contrary. To convey the message loud and clear let us take an example of our historic Rani Pokhari and the surrounding areas. The pristine and very fragile environment has been ruined by the actions of the public sector with utter disregard for its social well being. For example, in the distant past the government intended to build the C.D.O’s office complex in the very location where earlier the office of Anchaladhish was gutted down by fire in the sensitive Rani Pokhari bank. This proposal was not only a short-sighted step but a self inflicted wound. In the naïve name of ‘Public Purpose’, the government was on the verge of implementing an action without any future rationale or justification - a very strong legal

tool which clearly lacks social dimension and perception. Such change in land use is often enforced deceptively, in the name of noble intention and good cause. Hence, it is high time that the ‘Public Purpose’ clause be redefined in the broader context. This is to protect the people and justify the inherent purpose of an action.

RECREATION – REFRESHMENT OF MIND AND BODY While talking about open spaces it is very pertinent to highlight its various roles which we may or may not be aware of. Until and unless we become conscious of its multifaceted qualities, it does not get its due appreciation and realization from the people, government, planners, professionals, politicians and above all the national watch dogs - the media. Kathmandu’s open spaces serve more than just the most commonly associated needs since our rapidly disappearing open spaces function as complex, but undeniably basic foundations to our own existence. As each ropani of our urban open spaces is encroached upon, filled out, levelled and finally built over, we are forced into an even more arbitrary, artificial and precarious relationship with resources upon which we survive. July-August 2010



This absolute need could be generally called ‘Recreational’ where ‘Recreation’ is defined as ‘refreshment of mind and body’ by any standard dictionary. There could be the following distinct and vivid interpretations of ‘Open Space’: a) Exclusively and explicitly set aside for specific type of recreational purposes, such as playgrounds, zoos, picnic spots, gardens, etc., or for religious social actions. b) As planning tool (planned restriction in development intended to accomplish certain objectives in urban development). c) As an effective measure to soften the effects of tall buildings and their deeply shaded canyons, which demand the contrast of tree lined plazas, miniparks, roof-top gardens, etc. d) Created by default because prevailing land development practices of the place does not play coherent and cohesive role. e) Can be used to preserve existing conservation or agricultural uses or urban design measure or for stock of future urban land. In brief, it could play a vital role to regulate urban growth pattern. In urban context, an open space in the form of parks (for example, the various Chaurs, Ratna Park, Bhugol Park, etc.) is best conceived as an environment in which human life patterns may be ideally related to natural and man made elements within its confines. f) As safe havens in times of unforeseen calamities, e.g., during earthquake, fire, etc.


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g) As centre of socio-cultural activities highlighting social texture. If we flip through the history of ‘open space’ heritage of Kathmandu or listen to some respected elderly people, it will not be difficult for us to know that the valley was very lucky to have a lot of open spaces of various sizes and form (in terms of land stretch or water body) dotting its urban texture. It hardly matters whether we call it Gauchar, Tundikhel, or Chaur. It is undeniable that even before our first academically trained urban planner was born, people here were sensitive enough and perhaps believed that man and nature are indivisible and that survival and health are contingent upon an understanding of nature and her processes. The open space system in Kathmandu in the past not only catered to the multi-fold needs of human beings, but simultaneously took care of pasture land for the livestock. Of equal significance are the wet-lands in the form of Dahas or Pokharis that are fast disappearing because of land fill and consequential land-grab for built-up purpose (change of sensitive land use). By doing so we have not only diminished the open space but have impacted the very urban eco-system which sustains us.

THE PLIGHT NOW Clearly, we have two very distinct ‘scenarios’ of our open space systems –the past in which we cared a lot for, and another which has been usheredin during the last there decades with

heavy pressure from ever increasing encroachment and unabated expansion. With the uncontrolled urbanization going around Kathmandu and the fast deterioration of open space system, one wonders where we are heading to. Looking at the accelerated and alarming rate of disappearance of open spaces, one is compelled to admit that practically nothing will be left by the turn of the century. The very thought of our plight is extremely frightening. By the time the concerned institution wakes up from hibernation and makes an effort to publish an ‘inventory’ of the open space system in Kathmandu in order to manage it, all that will probably be left will be the book only. It is not only a matter of great loss of physical amenity and aesthetic entity but rather an environmental disaster with break down in natural cycle as nature is beleaguered day by day. To quote a few but glaring instances of our ruthless treatment of inherited open spaces would be the plight of the whole stretch of Tundikhel right from the northern bank of Rani Pokhari to Dasrath Rangasala, including the ever expanding army complex and depletion of Sano gaucharan at Gyaneshwor and scores more which we are aware of. Words cannot describe the molestation of Kamal Pokhari. If things are permitted to be straightened out, the recently forcibly built, ugly and incompatible institutional structure on the south bank of Rani Pokhari would have to be dismantled to make the whole spatial relation fluid and congenial. Equally harsh action is needed in and around Kamal Pokhari too.

© Mahima Shrestha


To quote a few but glaring instances of our ruthless treatment of inherited open spaces would be the plight of the whole stretch of Tundikhel.

KMC’s Urban Spaces and Environment Planning Text: Anand Gupta, Images: KMC

Nepal, whose urban population accounts for about 14 % of the total population (2001 census), is one of the least urbanized countries in the World as well as in South Asia. Almost one-third (30.9 percent) of the country's total urban population is concentrated in the five municipalities located in the Kathmandu Valley. Furthermore, in terms of ecological or geographical regions, Kathmandu Valley alone accommodates almost 61 % of the total urban population of Nepal. Moreover, rapid urbanisation is increasing in such a tremendous pace that large open spaces of the valley are continuously being lost, resulting in an unconventional city living style, traffic congestion and environmental pollution. This alarming state no doubt demonstrates loopholes in the management of local authorities. Nevertheless, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) does have plans to address the issue of the importance of open spaces and thereby improve the livelihood, as well as maintain and enhance the quality of life of urban residents.

CITY CORE KMC emphasizes Ratnapark, Tundikhel, Lainchour and its surrounding areas as important open spaces of the city core. As these places are prone to heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow, KMC has plans to develop pedestrian zones at the old city areas to control traffic congestion and pollution besides maintenance, development and reconstruction of existing side-walks of the city core areas; linking roads to inner city and Bishnumati river corridor; environmental developments along Bagmati, Bishnumati and Dhobikhola river corridors; management and improvement of traffic junction at Sorahkhutte, in front of Paropkar School, Teku, etc. Some of the plans considered by KMC are: • Restructuring the existing parking facility at Mahankalsthan strip. • Providing surface and underground parking, stretching it along Tundikhel linearly. • Re-development of Old Bus Park in assistance with Asian Development Bank (ADB) • Construction of parking facility to the north of Social Welfare Council, at Lainchour.

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• Traffic congestion management & removal of on street parking at Sundhara, Khichapokhari, Dharmapath, New Road, Jamal and Durbar Marg. • Prohibition of vehicular entry in World Heritage Zones, areas of tourism and cultural and historical importance to encourage heritage walk and pedestrianization. • Analyzing the current trend of urban development & Plan for digital mapping of Land use. • Zoning and updated urban information.

sector. In this system, rather than completely transferring public assets to the private sector, as with privatization, government and business work together to provide services and the process is monitored by the local authority. As a part of PPP implementation, reconstruction of Kamalpokhari, Balaju Park, Tinkune, Old Bus Park are also included in the KMC Plan on open spaces for the year 2010 targeting “Nepal Tourism Year 2011”.

PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP Management and planning for on street parking facilities are planned by the implementation of Public Private Partnership (PPP), with an agreement between government and the private sector regarding the provision of public services or infrastructure. PPP is purportedly a means of bringing together social priorities with the managerial skills of the private sector, relieving government of the burden of large capital expenditure, and transferring the risk of cost overruns to the private


Ar.Debendra Dangol ( Department Head,Urban Development, KMC)


Ar.Archana Shrestha(Urban Development Dept,KMC)


Mr. Noor Nidhi Neupane( Department Head, Revenue Dept,KMC)

LEGEND 1. Bus Drop-off Point (4) 2. Bus Pick-up Bays (12) 3. Safa Tempo Bay 4. Retail Shops/Stalls 5. Open Air Market 6. Ramp to Basement Car Park 7. Ground Level Car Park 8. Ramp/Stair to Pedestrian Overpass/Upper Concourse 9. Pedestrian Concourse 10. Pedestrian Overpass

Redevelopment of Old Buspark (Source: Kathmandu Metropolitan City)

THE BALANCE Let us not forget that social health and scenic costs far outweigh the so-called revenue generated by these rental structures which have been recently torn down due to some sane thinking. They are too trivial to match the visual as well as health qualities of open spaces. Even government institution in need of land should refrain from indiscriminate land grab of open spaces. There is no justification in this whatsoever and this tendency has to be curbed and deterred. ‘Tongue in cheek’ kind of approach will lead us to chaos and disaster. It is no intention of this author to undermine any government institution but let us be firm that the so-called saviour should not be a spoiler, and future generations should not inherit liabilities of the past. Let us feel and realize that the ecological dynamics of biota and biosphere have to be taken in all seriousness. Are we really futuristic when it comes to thinking about the welfare of our children and generation to follow? As of now, one is forced to be very sceptical. Let us vow to defend the last frontiers of our urban and rural landscape by our determined attitudinal


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LEGEND 1. Retail shops, Offices, Hotels 2. Restaurant 3. Pedestrain Gallery 4. Overhead Pedestrain Bridge 5. Ramp for Pedestrain 6. Lower Level Bus Station 7. Lower Level Pedestrain Concourse

Proposed Bus Facility with Basement Parking (Source: Kathmandu Metropolitan City)

values and deeds. To quote Mumford, “If society is paralyzed today, it is not for lack of means and for lack of purpose.” Let the concerned Government institutions and various interested groups, CBOs and NGOs give a serious thought on it. We ought to realize that planning, designing and managing our delicate and intricate environmental system does not imply that we make use of a fixed set of aesthetics only, but in fact embodies a continuous inner growth, a strong conviction which generates mechanisms to serve and alleviate the plight of city dwellers by pollution free air, and our eyes feel buoyant with perceptions of intrinsic qualities of open space. Today every bit of open space is vulnerable and prone to intrusion.

LUNG OF OUR LUNGS It is thus high time that the inhabitants of Kathmandu no longer remain silent spectators but behave like custodians. Let there be a new value system and new social dimension of responsibility and we all together should prove that there are oasis of our concerns and creation for this beleaguered capital

city. Let us not forget that open space like Tundikhel of Kathmandu is like our LUNG of lungs. Any encroachment of it for other functional use is a crime. It is public DOMAIN and in no way should it be used otherwise. The whole stretch of Tundikhel is just one ENTITY and should be restored to that status. If we take stock of the past endowment of open spaces, it becomes apparent that these acts were very religious in intention but were so much secular in their fulfilment of our varied activities, day in and day out. This kind of endowment is perhaps unheard of in western society. Obviously we have become reckless and indifferent as not to care about our own life-line. Without resorting to rhetoric or slogan, we must prove that our collective concern is springing out of our conviction and matching action, not only to protect the frontiers of open space but also to expand them in an appropriate scale to keep Kathmandu alive in a healthy way. In fact, protection of open space is just our won protection because this safeguards, a healthy, scenic and pristine valley.

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A REBEL with a CAUSE Text: Richa Bhattarai

Former mayor Keshav Sthapit has a new love in his life - and it shows. The fierce visionary, who was once synonymous with the revamping of the Kathmandu Valley, has moved on to the mellower realms of spiritualism. His countenance is all aglow with pride as he exhibits the facilities offered in his yoga centre. Beginning with the domed structure in the rooftop, where clients will be offered a peaceful meditation session complete with music therapy emanating from singing bowls, he moves on to the exclusively heated yoga room, and then to the collection of his precious and semi-precious stones. His tone is indulgent, and there is almost no trace of the piercing glance that shook his detractors just a couple of years ago.

But that is only until he begins to talk about the state of the capital. Immediately after this topic is opened, his passion for development comes to the fore. Not satisfied with merely describing his ideas, he begins to explain them with detailed sketches and diagrams. It is easy to comprehend why he is known as the man who has 'plans for every inch of the Kathmandu Valley.' One of the major reasons for this love of the valley, as he himself admits, is that he was born and brought up in its heart. Born in 1959 A.D. in Pako, arguably the nexus of New Road, which is in turn the acknowledged hub of the capital, Sthapit was a rebel even in his earliest years.

A FAILURE OR A LEADER "My grandfather was the royal architect," he confides, "and I ought to have been a royalist. But I was told by my grand uncle of how, on being unable to complete a palace in fifteen days, as per the whimsical demand of a queen, my grandfather was publicly humiliated. I think this was what aroused the revolutionary streak in me." His need to assert his identity led him towards the physical arena of gymnastics, martial arts and swimming. "I was the youngest child of my family, and was rather notorious too. I preferred plucking berries to staying in the class." He adds, "Instead of a formal, rigorous education, I was more attracted towards books. I would collect a lot of library cards from my friends, and bring home books loaded in a pram from the Indian, Chinese, Korean and American library." The young Sthapit bunked so many classes that the headmaster of his school, Adarsha Vidhya Mandir (AVM), proclaimed, "You


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will either be a failure or a leader." Sthapit believes that it is easy for him to take a stand against his detractors even today due to the confidence he gained from that statement. After completing his school level certificate from AVM, Sthapit joined the Institute of Engineering and attended two semesters. But after that, with the emergence of the political upheavals, he became disillusioned with the formal education system and plunged right into politics. Peepalbot, the place of his birth, was the centre of Nepalese politics and this further increased his political fervour. Tired of having to wait for entry into a political party, he formulated the DNYF (Democratic Nepal Youth Federation) as a Founder member. Later, he was even the president of the federation which believed in utilizing politics for development through youth mobilization. Within seven months, he had assembled three lakh youths in the group, who excelled in activities ranging from blood donation and tree plantation to mountaineering.

STUNNING VISIONS Soon after, Sthapit was appointed the member secretary of the Nepal Sports Council, and then the president of the Olympic Committee. After holding these two important posts in the sports sector, Keshav Sthapit was finally elected the mayor of KMC - and his regime catapulted him to the fame and visibility that he still thrives on. Immediately after joining office, Keshav proposed a lot of plans that left everyone else flabbergasted: that of glorifying Asan and turning it into

an IT center, turning Bagbazar into a high rise commercial area, relocating the bus park, building a fifty km park along the ring road, building a mega mall in Tinkune, turning the limestone pit in Chobhar into a compost heap and cleaning the Bagmati river. Chiefly remembered as the tasks of his administration are the widening of the Kalanki roads and the extravagant Maitighar Mandala built within fourteen days, now in a state of disrepair and best recognized as a glorified traffic island that assembles those rebelling for some cause. Reminded of all of these amazing proposals, most of which failed to bear fruit, he concedes, "Perhaps my approach was immature at that time." He does have interesting explanations about the non-workability of these plans. "We had surveyed the Asan area and had even begun convincing the natives but our labour brought no fruit." As for the park along the ring road, it cannot be built now, for no one, least of all the sweepers whom Sthapit had in mind, are interested in creating and maintaining them. Even the green belt on the roadside is slowly being eroded." And although JICA's report has stated that the bus park, currently near Ratnapark, ought to be shifted near Jadibuti, the squatters residing there oppose this step. He also has an ingenious idea of cleaning the incredibly filthy Bagmati - that of building dams and drainage along the banks deepened due to sand excavation. According to his logic, the water level will gradually rise, further abetted by the sand that he plans to deliver from the Guheswori area, and gradually, as


the flow increases, so will the impurities be washed away. Exciting, though this sounds, there seem to be no takers for it. Neither are there any initiations of his plan of turning Bagbazar into a mini-Asan. And so things remain in their status quo. Issues, Not Problems Sthapit's formal education may also have remained status quo, had not architecture and designing been in his veins (his father was also a furniture maker). He has never stopped learning and accumulating his vast treasury of knowledge till date. “Now, experts are ready to award me a Ph.D. degree considering my ideas as the thesis," he smiles in satisfaction. And indeed, what ideas these are! He has amazing solutions for every conceivable problem. "The first step," he says, "is that we must think of them as issues, not problems. Take, for example, the traffic jams, which are proving to be such big headaches. The way to tackle it is by applying a holistic approach, not just searching for a temporary remedy. We need to open all the dead-end roads, perform guided land developments, road widening, and river corridor and introduce ELTS (Elevated Land Travel System). The reality is that our transportation can be better than European standards. In London, for example, we have to park the vehicle and walk for fifteen minutes to our destination. But in such a tiny place like the Kathmandu Valley, we have fiftyeight parking spots. This is the height of convenience and management." ELTS, a unique air-conditioned transportation technology seems to excite Shrestha's imagination. This system, still present only in his imagination, will enable passengers to travel from Tripureshwor to Maharajgunj in a span of nine minutes and the cost of fifteen rupees. Even as our minds reel at the dream-like plan, he continues, "It might sound overambitious but the truth is that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. When Queen Elizabeth was to visit Nepal, Tundikhel was revamped in two days by people working all day. We Nepalese have this quality and unmatched enthusiasm. If we get the feeling that Nepal is changing and being rebuilt, then all of us - the general citizens, NGOs, INGOs, political parties - will jump wholeheartedly in the nation building process. Kathmandu is the most beautiful city in terms of climate, location and resources. It is god-gifted. It can win the whole world."

"THE FIRST STEP IS THAT WE MUST THINK OF THEM AS ISSUES, NOT PROBLEMS." - KESHAV STHAPIT SOLUTION FOR EVERY PROBLEM Recalling him from his fantasies, we query about his ambitious plan to resettle the squatters of Kathmandu and the longterm solution for that issue. He waves his palm in a dismissive manner, "The issue of illegal squatters will be solved if we utilize an area of 2,000 ropanis, which may be available in the Panga side of Kirtipur. There is simply a lack of initiation. We must first make the squatters sign an agreement that they own no land anywhere in Nepal. This is necessary because I personally know of people who own acres of land outside the valley but obtain land illegally here. If they really do not own land, then it is the state's responsibility to rehabilitate them and even offer them assistance for residence and occupation. But the catch phrase is that they must return this loaned amount with interest. I had even thought of building two high-rise towers in Shankhamul where the squatters

would reside in the upper stories. But this is almost impossible due to the extreme caste restrictions that they follow." This issue seems to be resolved in his mind, so we remind him of another responsibility that he had undertaken about two years ago. He was assigned the task of identifying street vendors and relocating them appropriately by the then Ministry of Home Affairs. But as the government changed, so did their priorities. This issue may have been disregarded, but is it clear that Sthapit has a soft corner for the street vendors. "I consider them to be entrepreneurs," he clarifies, “They are utilizing their individual skill to earn their livelihood. They should be encouraged to set up organized stalls in a certain place, perhaps even Tundikhel, and we can revolutionize the whole shopping culture. We can even treat it as a special haat (market) on a particular day of the week. Music, lights, the works... it would be so festive." Breaking into his reverie again, we ask him to clarify his bold statement, “Garbage is not a problem." He nods his head enthusiastically. "Indeed, it is not. I have a compost bin where I deposit all of my decomposing waste. The papers and plastics are pinned at a place, and my July-August 2010



helper earns two hundred rupees a month by selling that. If we were to make such a bin compulsory for every household and ban them from obtaining any other facility until they purchased this bin, then the problem would be automatically solved." If the garbage issue has such a deceptively easy solution, why is there a hue and cry about it every few weeks? "It is just due to the corruption and bureaucracy involved everywhere. The policy level people are used to complicating simple issues and earning money by introducing donor projects. Then why would they give precedence to such a profitless scheme?" His point does make sense. More so, as his ingenious ideas are the epitome of simplicity and straight forwardness. Like his concept of 'zero cost development', where he proposes that the cost of the project need only be shown in paper. After its completion, the invested cost will automatically return to you. “Take, for example, the concept of land pooling,” he clarifies, “After land is pooled together, divided into roads and systematized, there will be up to a five-fold appreciation in value. This is the reward. In fact, the project that has satisfied me the most is the land pooling of Naya Bazar (Mhempi),


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where the value of land has risen so much that people who earlier opposed my plans now come to salute me.” Another idea of his is to mobilize local people to plant gardens in waste lands and help them generate income through its sale.

THE CONSTRUCTION MAN While he may be revered for his determined implementations, it is common knowledge that he was almost

hated by some during his tenure as a mayor, and infamous as the 'demolition man.' Sthapit, however, has a completely different outlook, and considers himself to be the ‘construction man’. “If I had not worked, I would have garnered neither praise nor criticism,” he justifies, “It is just because I am so active that I have to endure criticism. And if it is valid, I do accept it. Having said that, I have no regrets for whatever I did and am just


repentant that I could not do more when in power.� Sthapit is well-known to despise the politics that shrouds every project in Nepal, and to crush them in his attempt to reach the destination, even under the most painful circumstances. He recalls the incident that still strikes him, “My father had passed away the day earlier, but I was determined to bulldoze the Ratnapark area that day. In that confused state, my mother blessed me to fulfill my duty, and even though ministers were threatening me, I carried on with the demolition. Meanwhile, a businessman was dancing around, not recognizing me and saying "The mayor's father is dead." You can imagine my trauma at the moment.� While Sthapit persevered in his vision of clearing up the Ratnapark area, he is dissatisfied with the state of open spaces in the valley. "The open spaces are rapidly shrinking," he voices his displeasure, "There are a lot of monuments and buildings belonging to the government which need to be renovated and maintained. It should be handed over to the local citizens." He cites the example of a spot in Maharajgunj which has been taken over by the exarmymen and is beautifully maintained as a park. "We should not expect parks within

the valley now," he emphasizes, "We need to look beyond. For example, there are vast open spaces available in Lakuri Bhanjyang. If we only create a reliable transportation system to, say, Kulekhani or Sisneri, people will be tempted to visit it and even shift there. The idea is to create urban centers outside the valley." His plans of building facilitated urban centers outside Kathmandu turn even grander. "If we give people the same privileges that they are obtaining here, and offer proper bridging transportation, we can easily set up such cities. The only requisite is that there should be sufficient water." He stresses that these decentralized cities are the need of the day, as Kathmandu is getting hopelessly overpopulated and even the soil here spongy and liquefied, making it a dangerous base to build upon. "A single earthquake would cause devastation," he states somberly. Perhaps to prove that his wild-sounding ideas are plausible in real life, Sthapit is now making preparations to build a self-sufficient model city based in Palpa and has already obtained some land for that, besides building a Ganesh statue there. His grandiose plans for this independent centre include a Gurukul

styled university where students will learn life skills under discipline and emerge as 'true human beings.' Perhaps Sthapit is himself striving to be a true human being through his spirituality and healing. Added to his entrepreneurship that includes a restaurant, an art gallery, a travel agency and a bio-diesel enterprise, he has taken upon himself the task of cleansing people's hearts and souls. Yet it is evident that this new love does not eradicate his passion for the welfare of his country and fellow country people. "Nation-building gives me immense satisfaction," he elucidates, "There are bound to be disagreements initially but once people realize your worth, they will join in wholeheartedly. It is my passion which has made people from all strata and sectors respect and love me. I myself have no hesitations in praising a committed individual having any political inclination, be it the intelligent economist Prakash Chandra Lohani or leaders Bamdev Gautam and Sharad Singh Bhandari. What I have learnt from these people, and from life, is to be satisfied with what you have, but never to hesitate in striving for the best and follow what you believe in."

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Figure 1 Double-Lamp Solar Street Light

SOLAR Streetlights Green and Economic Way to Brighten and Secure Community Text & Imges: Sandeep Giri

Streetlights evoke romance and drama. Old black and white movies had everyone from Gene Kelly to Raj Kapoor sing and dance around ornate streetlight poles. Even modern cinema dramatized images of poor kids having to study under the streetlight, and rock music told stories of street Romeos serenading under streetlights. Well, cut to reality (Nepali style) – our streets have no shortages of poles and have even more wires swaying in between, but alas, well-lit street lights themselves are seldom to be found, making our cities a land of dark streets. The reasons are many – first, there is load-shedding, then the utter disregard on the government’s part for any public infrastructure, the list goes on.



With the recent advances in solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and the dropping prices of solar panels and LED lights, solar streetlights have become a practical, economic, and a very green option for street lighting. Solar street lights are completely autonomous, i.e., we basically stick a pole in the ground, it has everything it needs to power itself, can turn itself on and off automatically, and more importantly, there is no need to install any wiring between the poles. Very much like point-and-click, we can choose any lighting location to our liking and install a solar street light pole instantly.

Case Study: Druk Amitabha Mountain Monastery in Sitapaila, Kathmandu Druk Amitabha Mountain monastery is located atop Sitapaila hill, about 4 km northwest of Swayambhunath. You can only get there using 4-wheel vehicles that take you up the bumpy, dusty (and steep) gravel road. Once there, the monastery is a 200-ropani (25 acre) span with some of the most majestic structures ever seen. In March 2010, the monastery hired Gham Power to install solar PV-powered outdoor security street lights to light up the compound (which used to be completely dark during nights, a concerning security issue). The system installed by Gham Power is a hybrid solar PV system to provide


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outdoor security street lighting from dusk till dawn at the monastery compounds. Each streetlight operates independently and lights up automatically from dusk till dawn. The street lighting system has 4 Kilowatt of solar PV generating ~30 units (kilowatt-hours) of electricity per day. This system powers up 25 security streetlights using 65 watt CFL bulbs each. In terms of carbon footprint, this system will prevent 11 tons of carbon emissions per year. In total, the PV system uses 20, 185watt solar panels from Solar Power Inc, 3 Steca Tarom 245 charge controllers, 3 Steca XPC 2-kilowatt inverters, and 22 Exide 200-Ah deep cycle tubular solar batteries. The lighting system consists of

10 lamps (65-watt CFL) installed along the top of the monastery’s Naro conference hall, and 15 lamps mounted on eight 20foot poles. There is approximately 800 meters of 4-core armoured cable (16 that connects the street light poles together, and each pole is equipped with photo-cell device that manages the automatic switching on the lights during dusk to dawn. The solar panels carry a 25year warranty, and the rest of the system carry a 5-year warranty, except the CFL light bulbs which carry a 1-year warranty. Gham Power began work at site on March 9, 2010 and completed its work in less than a month on April 7, 2010, just in time for the Annual Drukpa Council conference, where visitors from all across the world saw (and praised) how the monastery practices what it preaches about being environmentally responsible.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Although Druk Amitabha monastery chose to install the solar panels centrally and ran wires along their compound, a more economic way of installing solar street lights is to have all system components within the pole itself so that there is no need to run wires between the poles. As in Figure 3, a solar street light has the solar panel installed on top of the pole, with a battery box installed right underneath the panel (and close to the lamp). This way, the system minimizes the length of cables between panel, battery, and the load, which in turn greatly minimizes electricity loss, a common

Figure 3 Solar Street Light Component Configuration


Figure 2 4 KW Solar Street Light System at Druk Amitabha Monastery

problem in DC-based solar PV systems. This compact design also helps to install solar street light atop existing unlit poles. The street light lamp itself is an LED lamp, which is the most energy efficient lighting source on the planet today. For example, a 30-watt LED street light provides the equivalent light of a 300-watt halogen street light. Also, LED lights usually provide a warranty of 50,000 hours, the longest lifetime in lighting solutions. Furthermore, the battery used in these systems is a 3-year maintenance-free Gel or VRLA battery, which makes it relatively lightweight and easy to hoist up the pole. Also, the system automatically turns the light on and off at dusk and dawn (you can also optionally put a timer if you only want the street lights to be on during certain night hours). So essentially, the beauty of these systems is that you stick the pole in the ground, and there is literally no maintenance to be done for at least 3 years (except for occasional panel cleanup).

warranty on the solar panel is 25 years. So, you pay for the light in 5 years, and then get your street lights more or less for free for the next 20 years. This is a perfect solution for housing complexes, and any building with large parking lots and compounds such as banks, hospitals, shopping malls, etc. And we hope that as architects, builders and developers adopt this practice and start lighting up our streets wherever we can, perhaps our government will learn something from the people it is supposedly representing and start implementing similar solar street lights for our public roads. After all, it is the right thing to do.

Figure 4 Panel on top of LED Street Lamp Figure 5 20-Foot Solar Street Lights approx. 100 ft. Apart

PARTING THOUGHTS There is no reason our street lights should abandon any hopes of romance. A financial analysis of installing solar street light versus regular utility-powered streetlight shows that the advantages of solar are quite obvious. First, solar street light will reliably light up each night, utility-powered will not because of loadshedding. Second, you save quite a bit by not having to install any cabling between the light poles. The payback period for the solar street light is 5 years, whereas the

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Cracks on floor finish due to settlement of filled up soil - note the split between the floor and the wall skirting

Cause: Improper consolidation of the filled up soil. In normal circumstances, the ground floor (plinth) level is usually higher than the external ground level. Hence area bounded by the plinth walls need to be raised to the required level. This is accomplished by filling it up with soil (earth) to the required level - the normal practice usually adopted and the cause of the problem. The Trap: • To make life easier (or work faster), workers tend to fill up the space with soil in large quantities and then ram it. This leaves voids at lower levels of the filled up soil, resulting in its settlement at a later stage (irrespective of whether the ramming is done manually or mechanically). • Areas adjacent to the plinth walls are relatively inaccessible for proper ramming, making them vulnerable areas for future settlement. • Levelled plots sell at a higher price. Your site could be a recently filled plot!


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on floor finish of ground floor


Solution: 1. Proper consolidation of the filled up soil: • Fill up soil not more than 6 inches (12 inches when using a mechanical rammer). • Consolidate by ramming and sprinkling water. • Fill up next 6 inches and repeat process upto the desired level. 2. Partially reinforcing the concrete floor slab: • Reinforce the edges of the concrete floor and connect them to the plinth beam. PARTIALLY REINFORCED CONCRETE FLOOR SLAB TO CHECK SETTLEMENT CRACKS AT EDGES OF GROUND FLOOR

The Home article will be a regular feature in this Solutions section. If you have any queries regarding your home, do write to us at:

3. Reinforcing the whole concrete floor slab • Reinforce the whole concrete floor slab using nominal reinforcement (8mm Torsteel @ 10 inches c/c). • Use this method if consolidation has not been done as desired.

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Lets get creative Text & Images: Ashesh Rajbansh


hotography is all about capturing light on to a medium, be it film or digital. The better the light is captured, it’ll look more beautiful. All colors reflect light differently, some are more reflective, some are less reflective and some are neutral. It is literally impossible to record all hues of color of nature on any medium mankind has created so far. Also there is no such camera to accurately measure the colors of nature and record on a medium. Technically, this is the trickiest part of photography, but not so difficult to conquer once you’re after it. This is exactly the reason behind camera manufacturers for creating different types of light measuring meters on all types of cameras. Even small compact or pocket cameras have different types of light meters built in it. Except some professional cameras which has RGB sensor for light metering, all camera meters are calibrated for 18% gray. Consider a grayscale bar which gradually goes from pure white to dark black, around middle there is 18% gray. The camera meters are


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calibrated for this region. The result, if you maintain the light meter at neutral and shoot very white subject like snow, pure white shirt etc. it won’t be pure white. Same for the dark black subjects. The trick is to increase exposure for white subjects and decrease exposure for dark subjects. using the feature called ‘Exposure Compensation’ available on camera. To do so, first the understanding of light meters build on your camera is crucial. We’ve already agreed that a photograph is light captured on a medium. Then it is easily understood that the most important aspect of photography, technically, is measuring the light. Always the biggest amount of effort goes on reading and managing the light for any photographer and for every type of subject. The technology has created some wonderful tools to measure light, some are build on camera and others has to be purchased separately. Basically light can be measured with two types of light meters :



These are hand-held external light meters, not found on camera. Expensive but highly accurate, easy but with expertise only. These meters read the light available at the scene, not the light reflected by the subject. For faithful exposure, no adjustment is required, simply follow the exposure derived by the meter. Sekonic and Minolta are the expert manufactures favored around the world.



Found built in on every camera these days, the meter reads the light reflected by the subject not the light available on scene. The more reflective subjects like mirror, snow, light bulbs on work, white wall etc. and less reflective subjects like dark wall, black objects and dark backgrounds can easily fool the meter. This is where we need to intervene and get creative in order to get the optimum exposure to portray the subject as we imagine. Various modes of reflected light meters are present even in small compact cameras, number and type differs from models and makes of the camera. Commons types are :


1. EVALUATIVE METERING/ MATRIX METERING This type of meter analyses the entire frame. The meter divides the frame into certain number of segments or zones, depending up on models and makes of the camera. The zones vary somewhere form 8 zones to 63 zones from amateur camera towards professional cameras. Then the camera will to try to ‘identify’ the subject, these days it will look for faces in the frame, and prevents the main subject from over or under exposing. The rest of the zones are also evaluated for the amount of light each zone is receiving. All data is fed to the processor of the camera and then it calculates the ’appropriate’ exposure, a combination of shutter speed and aperture, for that scene. Finally the camera takes the photo based on that exposure. This is fully automated process, never possible to repeat as numerous calculations are going in the processor of the camera. But on the other hand, this is the most accurate ,in general, and the easiest type of light meter the camera manufacturers have created for amateurs so far. Since the entire frame is evaluated and subject is ‘looked’, this type metering yields most number of successful pictures for a hobbyist. Not a type of light meter for any kind of specialized shooting, this one is purely addressed for the needs of amateurs and general masses only.

2. CENTER- WEIGHTED AVERAGE METERING This type of light meter started very early in analogue cameras which use films as the medium to record light. Still continued in digital cameras, it is going strong as favorites of many photographers who started with analogue cameras. The meter is strongest at the center, covering around 20% of frame, gradually getting weaker towards edges. This type of light meter does not read light falling edges of the frame.

3. PARTIAL METERING Now the metering mode is getting more advanced. This type of metering mode covers roughly 9% of frame at center only, discarding the rest of the area in frame. It can read light form specific area, though bigger than spot metering, the photographer can have creative control over exposure. This is very effective when the background is much brighter or darker than the subject due to backlighting. For example, trying to photograph a person in font of a mirror will normally yield an under exposed photo. Reason : mirror is brighter than the subject, it will reflect more light. When we take a photo of a person against dark background, in front of a dark wall, the photo will be over exposed. Because the wall is darker than the subject and will reflect less light. There are many tricky situations in nature when programmed actions built on camera gets fooled very easily. By over-riding the automated features with creative control or going totally on manual mode using these type of specialized modes available on camera, we can actually ‘create’ the picture exactly as we wanted.

4. SPOT METERING This is the ultimate light metering mode available on camera for the most creative photographers. Around 3% of the frame at center is all that is covered, rest of the area is completely discarded. It can read light from very specific and small area, got the highest level of accuracy for exposure, helps most to the creativity of a photographer in terms of brightness desired. Using spot meter requires high level of knowledge and experience. Used properly, this is a jewel. On the other hand, using without knowledge can easily break the exposure beyond repair. Success rate is highly dependent up on the knowledge of the photographer. No matter what the lighting is, where the subject is, whether the background is much lighter or

darker than the subject or any scene that you can imagine this metering mode will help you take the exposure exactly as the photographer wanted. Now that we understand the metering modes available on camera, its time to understand the reflective nature of various type of subjects, colors in fact, and practice taking a lot of photographs increasing or decreasing the exposure using exposure compensation. It is also suggested to try and practice different type of metering modes available on your camera. Almost all cameras have this feature called Exposure Compensation. By default, it remains neutral at 0, but you can increase up to +2 or decrease up to -2 at 1/3 level on most cameras. What it does is, it adjust the exposure by the amount that you’ve dialed on Exposure Compensation on the main exposure setting derived by the processor of the camera after analyzing the scene, depends up on the type of meter that you’ve chosen. What about the flash exposures? Well it’s the same. Just go to Flash Exposure Compensation and try dialing some towards + (increase) and - (decrease) to alter the exposure. Finally I must say, the more time you spend behind the camera more successful you’ll be. Ashesh Rajbansh is a professional photographer specializes on documentary and nature photography. Expertise on digital photography was utilized by Canon on various workshops conducted on behalf. The Photography article is a regular feature in this Solutions section. If you have any queries regarding photography, do write to us at:

This type of meter is also not for highly specialized work, since it can not read light from small specific area, still remains favorite for starting very early in photography. Portrait photography is one area where we can get most out of this metering mode.

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with the trend of building tall buildings within the core city area too. This makes courtyards, shaded all the time with little or no ventilation, creating an unhygienic environment.

Ar. Biresh Shah (BS) Exe. Dir., Archiplan, Kathmandu, Nepal ( Ar. Ashim Bajracharya (ARB) HOD, Arch. Dept., Kathmandu Engineering College, Kathmandu, Nepal. (

Urban Open Spaces 1. SPACES: What is the importance of open spaces in urban environment? BS: Open Spaces are a highly significant aspect of Cites and have been critically instrumental in defining the character of cities and their definitive urban culture. Every memorable city has a great park or urban square or specific quality of neighbourhood spaces associated with it. The traditional historic cities of the Kathmandu Valley possess a strong system of urban spaces encompassing a spectrum of scales and quality, which form a complex matrix of interrelationship producing memorable landscapes and have supported an advanced urban culture for centuries. Unfortunately, in the contemporary metropolis, any established system of urban spaces is missing. Urban spaces not only provide the common space for a plethora of urban activities, they also foster healthy urban communities and give legibility to urban landscapes. ARB: Open space forms a key component of urban landscape in creating a healthy urban environment to the city dwellers. Open spaces, whether public or private, has lot of importance in providing outdoor recreation, providing greeneries, social interaction for community, as a playground for the people and other activities. 2. How do you perceive the availability and use of open spaces in Nepal, specifically in the urban areas? BS: If we view Kathmandu City on Google Earth today, the large new developments stand out as large swathes of grey with almost no green reliefs. All you see are inadequate roads and properties (plots/building); quality public spaces are non-existent. Compare this with the Google Earth view of other cities and there is a healthy mix of green and the greys,


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although the mosaic is always specific to the particular city, which imparts each city with its definitive character. In Kathmandu, the only public spaces are the large preserved areas around traditional, cultural and religious sites, or other leftover ‘Parti’ plots in the emerging neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, a lot these ‘Parti’ plots in the new neighbourhoods are being taken over by local ‘social organizations’ in the name of beautification and maintenance or some ‘public service work’ with the tacit approval of authorities. The public quality of such spaces is mostly lost in such ventures. The planning and building bye-laws also reduce public space to a quantifiable figure, therefore whatever public space emerges in new development is mostly unusable and lacks any character ARB: When talking in context of Kathmandu, with rapid urbanization, and rapid settlement growth, open spaces are depleting quickly. This has a direct correlation with the rapid urban population growth and increment in the built-up areas accordingly. The main reason is the shortage of land to meet the demand for accommodation of the fast growing population. Land is becoming very precious and its price is steeply on the rise. As a result, every bit of land is being used for built-up area and accordingly, the share of land for open space is getting a lesser priority. This is resulting in a dense urban area with less or no open space, narrow roads and lack of adequate greeneries. All these are hampering Urban Climate and Environment severely. The problem is even more evident in recently developed urban settlement. In contrast, our traditional settlement has well balanced mix of built-up and open spaces with even distribution of courtyards, bahals and chowks. But even there, the open spaces are gradually becoming unsuitable for habitation

3. What measures can be adopted to ensure the balance of open and built up spaces in the urban environment? BS: Measures need to be taken at the level of design, planning regulations and guidelines which define the quality to be achieved rather than the quantity. Planning and building design needs to be oriented towards creation of functional usable open space rather than just concentrate on infrastructure provisions and square footage of land provisions. Authorities, both elected and permanent also need to focus on retaining the public nature of open spaces for a sustainable healthy city and lead in the creation of new public space hierarchy (for eg. riverfronts, large regional parks), more in keeping with the new metropolitan nature of the City. ARB: The problem should first be addressed at the level of city planning. Proper land-use planning should be formulated that defines a parameter for usage of space as per the urban activity. Current Building Byelaws are to be updated for establishing regulations to have more open space in any building complex and they should be strictly enforced. More of the public open spaces with greeneries are required to maintain suitable urban climate. Encroachment of the public open spaces by street vendors and squatter settlement should be controlled. For that, government should devise alternative solutions for such groups. 4. What is the role of the architect and urban designer/ planner in ensuring this balance? BS: Architects must learn to optimize the use of land available on the site creatively. The byelaws mostly define setbacks and percentages. The design challenge today is how we establish a form on the site which seeks to maximize the usability of the land on the site. In this regard, the architects have much to learn from the urban form of the older cities in the Valley. It is a common practice in architectural schools to take up unnecessarily large sites for project designs, and then there is a tendency to fill up every corner available, rather indifferently. Land is a very limited vital resource and we must be very careful how we build on it and optimise its usability. Planners need to revisit the byelaws and see how useful open spaces can be created by modifying bye-laws. In Planning guidelines (for eg. Land-pooling projects), the criteria for open spaces must go beyond just road widths and percentage of open spaces, and rather to the quality of urban spaces and conditions that the various elements of the


Plan needs to achieve. As the city grows into a large sprawling metropolis, there are various scales and types of open spaces that are needed and these must be stipulated by the planners. The regulatory authorities have a vital role in establishing the vision and the environment for planners and architects to make that extra effort for open spaces. The current trend of usurping public land by ‘social organizations’ should be reversed and the public

nature of all public land should be conserved. Needless to say that these open spaces also require large investments to develop them for a variety of contemporary necessities and maintain them, which can be undertaken only with the leadership and commitment of the elected officials. Lastly, and most importantly, Communities who use these spaces must be consulted by All in determining the course/ nature of their actions.

An 'Open Space' is a very critical component of the urban form of a city. Greenery by definition is an important element in terms of human health, city's beautification or recreation. Such spaces are being massively encroached in Kathmandu. To add to that, the private land markets are not being able to produce open spaces for the larger public benefit. One might find open spaces produced in organized housing facilities but they are limited to the use of site owners, rather than the general public. To add to this we have not been able to conserve many existing spaces as well. In fact not only the formal open spaces but also un-institutionalized spaces like river banks are not being protected. In my opinion this situation is caused by multiple factors such as institutional weakness, lack of timely monitoring and also due to lack of awareness amongst the citizens. Space protection and management is not a unilateral or individual problem. There are several other issues cross cutting in this scene. It is also important to note that these open spaces are very crucial in terms of disaster management. Come some kind of disaster, these are the spaces we need to use for quick rehabilitation. I think there is a lesson to be learnt from the Koshi flood where many people had to be rehabilitated in schools. Hence open spaces also play a crucial role in this perspective. But I think the current land market trends can neither preserve nor create open spaces, hence strong regulatory processes are a must in this sector . An open space can range from a small scale site space to the peripheral agricultural land or community forests. But if we plan to preserve them the regulatory policies have to be controlled. For example, in case of preserving agricultural land the land sub-division policy is very crucial and hence its mechanism has to be considered. Also to be considered are

ARB: From individual point of view, as an architect, while designing a building, a designer should not only look at a building alone in isolation, but should look at much wider perspective considering urban environment in general. Rather than focusing only on a built environment, an architect should also look on to the external environment in any design task, considering outdoor climate.

Cross cutting of multiple factors the factors of public facility development which needs to be properly guided. In order to preserve such spaces, infrastructure development should not be largely promote, policies should suppress private land market and institutional mechanism has to be clearly defined with proper responsibility, something we don’t see as of yet. The responsibility of a city open space is that of the municipality, the Nagar Bikas Samiti and Jilla Prasasan Karyalaya as well. This kind of duplication brings about a situation of 'nobody's responsibility', where if a space is encroached the current institutional design does not clearly define which institution shall be approached or who is responsible. Such confusing institutional mechanism hinders enforcement immensely; the already weak enforcement of our laws is further weakened by such ambiguities. Such institutional weakness is also visible in the sector of Urban Growth Management. A major authority in the matter of Land Use Control is the Nagar Bikas Samiti, which is currently working with the human resource components and organizational structure designed to cater the 1970's. Such organizations need to understand that a complex city has developed in these past years and there are wide spread differences in the Kathmandu Valley of 1970's and hence, an organization designed for the 1970's cannot cater to the Kathmandu of today.

The major problem I see is in the institutional arrangement. Unless we revamp these institutions I don’t think the problems can be resolved nor can we get the kind of preservation and management or enjoyment of these spaces that we desire. I am not trying to be pessimistic, but without proper institutional provision it would be very difficult. The Nagar Bikas Samiti is acting all barks and no bite. On one hand there is no production of open spaces and on the other the present open spaces are not being preserved. If future space management is our priority we need to start by reforming the Kathmandu Valley Town Development. Today, if Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee (KVTDC) makes a plan, but if the local bodies don’t implement them, it is of no use. Even if the local bodies discard the plans of KVTDC, there is no institutional way to follow up on the same. The buildings that are constructed with the permit from the municipality are directly discharging waste into the river, and there is no monitoring, but the municipality is still issuing such permits. Similar problems are present in management and preservation of open spaces and built environment as well. We have to understand that all our correctional efforts in this field, unless they include institutional reform, are like treating the symptoms instead of the root cause itself.

Dr. Mahendra Subba is the Deputy Director General at the Urban Development Department of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), Kathmandu

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DESIGN Services

Project Sample


Archiplan Pvt. Ltd, Kathmandu

Architecture, Planning, Conservation, Preservation, Landscape, Interior, Construction Management

Kathmandu College of Management, Gwarko; Nepal Medical College, Kathmandu


A-Not Architecture and Architects

Architecture, Interior, Landscape, Planning, Conservation, Valuation, Construction management

National Planning Commission, Kathmandu; Nepal Midpoint Community Hospital, Nawalparasi


Design Cell, Kathmandu

Architecture,Engineering,Planning, Interior design

Krishna Tower, Kathmandu; Chitwan School of Medical Sciences, Bharatpur


Innovative Createers

Architecture, Interior, Sustainable/green design

Tilganga Eye Hospital, Kathmandu


John Sanday Associates Pvt Ltd

Architecture, Planning, Conservation, Preservation, Landscape, Interior

Upper Mustang Cultural Heritage Conservation Project; Mustang HRDC( Hospital for rehabilitation of disabled children), Banepa.


KVPT (Kathmandu Vally PreservationTrust)

Historic preservation

Radha Krishna temple, Patan; Kal Bhairv temple, Kathmandu


Prajwal Hada and Associates

Architecture, Interior, Landscape, Structure, Planning, Construction Management

Civil Mall, Kathmandu; Ashok Cinema Hall, Patan


Prabal S. Thapa

Sustainable /green architecture

Tiger Mountain Lodge, Bardia; Amaghar Children’s Home, Godavari


Red Buddha Folk Art

Traditional Nepali Designs adapted for Contemporary Living

Baudha Kitchen, Kathmandu


Master design of Mahindra - Logan, Agni Inc., BID, Balaju; Siddhi Shaligram Briddhaashram, Bhaktapur


Reverie Designs

Architecture, Interior, Landscape, Construction Management Architecture, Interior, Landscape, Planning, Hydro Power, Structure

Agriculture Development Bank H.O. Extension, Kathmandu; Muni Bhairav Commercial Complex, Kathmandu


Shah Consult International (P) Ltd Sarosh Pradhan and Associates

Architecture, Interior, Planning, Graphic design

The Bakery Café, Sundhara, Kathmandu; TEWA, Lalitpur


Siddharth Gopalan

Architecture and Interior

The Factory, Thamel, Kathmandu; Valley Homes, Lalitpur


SLTD( Shelter and local technology development centre)

Cost Effective Technology & Research

Pokhara Housing, Pokhara; Housing for Mushahars families, Siraha


SPADECO (Spatial Design Company Pvt .Ltd)

Architecture, Engineering, Interior, Construction Management

Nepal Pavilion Expo 2005, Aichi, Japan; Kathmandu Medical College Extension, Kathmandu

977-1-5526040 977-1-4222408

Technical Interface

Planning , Engineering, Architecture, Interior

Nepal Pavilion Expo 2000, Hanover, Germany; Sanchaya Kosh, Thamel, Kathmandu

Vastukala Paramarsha

Architecture, Interior

Comfort Housing, Kathmandu; Great Lotus Stupa, Lumbini








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Landscaping, Ornamental plants, Cut Flowers, Foliage, Orchids



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Contemporary Arts

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Contemporary Arts



Creativity and visual art



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SPACES Nepal JULY-AUG 2010  

Art-Architecture-Interior Design-Accessories based Magazine

SPACES Nepal JULY-AUG 2010  

Art-Architecture-Interior Design-Accessories based Magazine