Experts have laid emphasis on the reconstruction and rebuilding of the damaged heritages sites, as well as indigenous traditional buildings, without altering their originality to safeguard the Nepali identity and culture in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake.
Speaking at a two-day conference on ‘Traditional Architecture: Opportunities and Roadmap for Rebuilding’, Jib Raj Pokhrel, conservation architect and Vice Chancellor of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, said, “The damaged structures and heritage sites should be constructed by incorporating traditional methods to retain the ancient traditional architecture of Nepal, which is distinct from the architecture of other nations.”
He warned that reconstructing and rebuilding of damaged heritage sites in modern style would cause identity crisis for all Nepalis and their future generations. “The traditional architecture and structures reflect Nepal’s identity in the same way the pyramids represent Egypt and Eiffel Tower represents Paris,” he said.
He added that investment of huge budget, human resources, skills, technologies, and traditional expertise was essential for reconstruction of the damaged heritage sites and traditional structures so as to preserve the architecture, as well as identity of local people.
Rabindra Puri, conservationist and Founder of Rabindra Puri Foundation for Conservation, reasoned that the ancient traditional mud houses had collapsed due to lack of maintenance and timely restoration before the quake.
Most of the traditional old mud houses faced three major earthquakes and were restored by municipalities, government, experts, and local people in the past. According to Puri, RPFC has been carrying out systematic demolition of traditional houses while preserving the parts of damaged and collapsed traditional houses. The windows, bricks, stones, mud, artifacts, chukuls, doors, and other necessary parts have been preserved for the reconstruction of the traditional mud houses in accordance with the traditional architecture.
“The municipality, government, locals, national and international stakeholders have fallen short of putting their efforts to restore and reconstruct the damaged traditional mud houses,” he said. His team has been training masons, carpenters, and stone carvers for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the traditional buildings.
Poonam Rajya Laxmi Rana, Professor at Department of Nepalese History Culture and Archaeology at Tribhuvan University, suggested that modern technology should be used to construct earthquake resistant traditional buildings by maintaining their original outer and inner facades.
Deepak Pant, Architect and ecological planner at Archiplan, highlighted that the traditional architecture transferred and preserved the culture, identity, and traditions for generations.