Transformation of Traditional Building Stocks in the historic core of Kathmandu: looking through the prism of culture and climate

  • Dr. Bijaya K. Shrestha Head of Department, Post Graduate Department of Urban Design and Conservation Khwopa Engineering College, Bhaktapur, Nepal
  • Sushmita Shrestha Master Degree student of Post Graduate Department of Urban Design and Conservation Khwopa Engineering College, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Keywords: Traditional Building, Culture, Climate, Transformation, Urban Design, Legal and Institutional Framework


The social fabrics and traditional building stocks in the historic core of Kathmandu in the past were not only cultural and climatic responsive but also balanced the building stocks with infrastructure capacity. However, haphazard transformation of old houses at two fronts – replacement of 3-4 storey residential houses by 6-7 commercial use [or mixed use] with modern reinforced cement concrete structures - has not only destroyed the community bonds and cultural spaces in the neighbourhoods [and the town] but also reduced the thermal comfort inside the buildings. Moreover, such changes without improving the infrastructural capacity have also generated a new set of urban problems of environmental degradation, traffic congestion and exposition of higher percentage of people under seismic risk including destruction of unique townscape. The existing legislation is inadequate and ineffective whereas the concerned agencies are little concern with culture and climatic issues in building transformation. To reverse this trend, vertical division of the traditional houses should be discouraged whereas culture and climatic responsive renovation and new construction works in the historic core area should be promoted through formulation of urban design guidelines and provision of numerous incentives. Such practice should be disseminated to architectural colleges, private practitioners and those working in real estate and building industry. Last but not the least, public education and community awareness on culture and climate responsive planning, design and construction is recommended.