Joint Survey on a Preservation and Utilization Plan for a Historic House in Kirtipur, Nepal

The historic house under investigation in the medieval settlement of Kirtipur

 Almost 8 years have passed since the Gorkha earthquake in 2015 that caused devasting damage in Kathmandu valley. Many historic buildings are undergoing reconstruction, including those with “Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site” status. While the rehabilitation of these recognized heritage sites is being carried out with public attention, the historic buildings that are not legally protected, especially privately owned properties, are decreasing in number due to reconstruction or demolition without any recognition of their heritage value.
 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been working to support the establishment of a network for conservation of historic settlements of Kathmandu valley, in collaboration with experts and governmental officers in Nepal, since just after the Gorkha earthquake and continuously during the pandemic. This series of dialogues led us to launch a new project for the conservation of a damaged historic house in Kirtipur as a cooperative project between Kirtipur municipality and TOBUNKEN.
 Built in traditional Newar style, the target house, a historical landmark of the town, is located within the area of the World heritage tentative listing, “Medieval settlement of Kirtipur.” Although the building is currently being used for residential purpose, it is said that it used to be a part of the former royal palace complex of Kirtipur in old times. A square with a historic pond surrounded by this house and a nearby medieval temple together comprise one of the symbolic historical landmarks of the old town of Kirtipur.
 In the first joint survey, conducted from October 11 to 16, 2023 with the aim of collecting basic information on the building, the project team carried out a measurement survey, investigation on the transition of the building, and interview surveys with residents on the ownership relationship, lifestyle of residents, family history, and intentions for future utilization of the building. Further discussions will be held with related stakeholders regarding the possibilities of the future utilization of the house and issues to be solved to enable its realization.
 Many countries, including Japan, share common challenges on the conservation of historic buildings that are not legally protected. Through this project, together with Nepalese experts, we will exchange knowledge through dialogue with the aim of establishing a process for conservation and utilization of historic buildings that would be compatible with the Nepalese cultural context.

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