The Nepal earthquake of 2015-it struck the city of Kathmandu in central Nepal destroying more than 600,000 structures in the city itself, covering it in dense rubble and blocking the streets and paths.
The site, where once stood a UNESCO recognized structure, Dharhara tower, was destroyed in the disaster. With an urban density of nearly 20,000 people every kilometer and rubble covering the street, the rehabilitation process till date is very slow and the access to temporary shelters in fewer parts of the city, makes the process complicated, hence to rebuild Kathmandu, we go vertical. Drawing an analogy from the city development period after the fall of Berlin wall, we seek to start a critical reconstruction of Kathmandu. This building revives the traditional urbanism of the city using vernacular materials and associated techniques. It also aims to re-invent the contemporary equivalent. The structure will take the central role in the city rebuilding. The central void in the skyscraper is a mark of remembrance and absence of 2015 earthquake.
Wood is the material of this region, which lies strategically between India and China. The wood bracketing techniques have been used successfully in temples across Kathmandu, which have survived many earthquakes, pagodas being one of them which use dougong, a traditional wood bracketing technique which is super resistant to earthquake. This building is participatory in nature and is organic and becomes a community-scraper. The use of timber from rubble makes this building use less energy, hence low Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
*Newars are the historical inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley and its surrounding areas in Nepal and the creators of its historic heritage and civilisation
This research project not only looks at one point of view through architecture or urbanism but rather employs multiple view points to understand and present interventions to manage urban ecosystem and infrastructures. Policy making, economics, long term investment, public private partnerships, healthy community relationship has been looked at in-depth and the solutions provided are both long term as well as short term.
The historical and site analysis of Kathmandu after the 2015 earthquake
As part of the design process we were really interested in how we could rehabilitate the people into a habitat such that they do not lose the feeling of community. Furthemore, housing is just one part of the equation here, people also rely on other infrastructure like school and food, which we realized during the design process and integrated into the building.
Playground, school, dining, housing and market are the components of the building. The activities within the building shift from morning to evening and keep the building a vibrant place to be in. The housing part is further subdivided into various hierarchies which are discussed below.
How the structural system works and how it binds two housing units together giving stability as well as more space to inhabit.
The external exoskeleton of the building based on Dougong
We didn't use any concrete as it is not the vernacular material of the region. We rather focussed on using wood in form of dougong end to end in the building structural system