Preserving Tangible & Intangible Heritage throughout the Rebuilding Process

Katherine Wong – To preserve tangible and intangible heritage of the Nepalese people throughout the rebuilding process after the disaster we recommend the reuse of salvaged traditional building materials as they represent an integral part of local heritage. Within the reconstruction, public support and identification needs to be integrated to maintain a process of sensitivity towards the social and economic aspects of heritage.

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Cultural & Heritage Assets – (Source) https://www.flickr.com/photos/120420083@N05/14470824961/

Salvage and reuse traditional building materials for the preservation of the local architectural heritage

The Nepalese traditional materials are a result of the unique geographic conditions of Nepal; in general they consist of bricks, mud mortar, timber, for structural support, and the traditional small jhingati roof tiles. The use of these materials, instead of “modern” ones, offers the following benefits:

  1. It significantly enhances the sustainability of the rebuilding process; these materials are locally produced and easy to replace in case of a reconstruction.
  2. Traditional materials have the social benefit of providing a sense of familiarity to the appearance of the buildings, thus easing social continuity after the disaster.
  3. The materials are necessary for the reconstruction and preservation of the older buildings and monuments, and therefore for the protection of the Nepalese architectural character.

We thus recommend to collect salvaged materials and reuse as much as possible. After their collection, the materials should be accumulated in specified points and separated in terms of their type and reusability. During reconstruction the use of the materials should follow the relevant guidelines of the 1994 ‘Nepal National Building Code’ and the 2006 UNESCO Kathmandu ‘Heritage Homeowner’s Preservation Manual.’

Identify the social and cultural values attached to places affected through different perspectives (residents/state/UNESCO)

The perspective of the residents within the affected area is crucial during the reconstruction and preservation process to ensure public acceptance.

  • Sites may have sacred values attached to them therefore, the local perspective must be considered before decisions are made about reconstruction. Within this identification process, not only the residents must be included but the state must be included to ensure governmental approval of the processes.
  • UNESCO can provide information about registered heritage sites to facilitate the process of a thorough identification. Further actions are needed to support the preservation of the intangible heritage.

Create appropriate arenas and tools to promote discussion about tangible and intangible heritage to uncover local knowledge of place and create public support and awareness.

Fostering appropriate spaces to discuss heritage with local people is important in understanding the context of the place.

  • The space chosen for discussions must be physically and psychologically accessible to people within the local area. Discussions can be held in neighbourhoods or around key public heritage places to situate the discussion and allow people to relate physically and emotionally to the heritage of the place.
  • Facilitators of public discussion should be aware of barriers to participation such as language barriers and time constraints to local people, ensuring that public discussions can be attended and understood by all participants.
  • A local mediator or actor would be beneficial within this process to build trust between parties and encourage dialogue.

Use appropriate mapping techniques to uncover pre-disaster social and economic values of intangible and tangible heritage in and around Kathmandu

The identification of the social and economic values attached to intangible and tangible heritage in and around Kathmandu is important.

Swayambhunath Temple before and after the earthquake - (Source) http://globalnews.ca/news/1976352/in-photos-ancient-swayambhunath-temple-in-ruins-after-nepal-earthquake/
Swayambhunath Temple before and after the earthquake – (Source) http://globalnews.ca/news/1976352/in-photos-ancient-swayambhunath-temple-in-ruins-after-nepal-earthquake/
  • Heritage is a historically large economic driver in the area because of its value to tourists in addition to its local social value.
  • A framework for categorizing the different values attached to each heritage asset is necessary in order to rebuild the local and regional economy.
  • The creation of an inventory is necessary to keep check of the assets in order to satisfy the monitoring requirements of the multiple stakeholders. (Refer to ‘p7, Identifying and Inventorying Intangible Cultural Heritage’ for inventory technique.)

Ensure heritage policy is publicised through active promotion and accessible participatory processes.

To ensure continuing public support of the actions taken, information should be sufficiently provided to the public.

  • It is important that the citizens know that the heritage and religious sites are honoured and treated with respect to their culture, that the reconstruction is to help them and the entire process is transparent. Information points at the construction sites or at the Townhall should be provided.
  • The 2006 UNESCO Kathmandu ‘Heritage Homeowner’s Preservation Manual’ can be used as a guideline to the creation of the Information sheets publicly provided.
  • In connection to this it is recommended that there will be a contact person announced as a facilitator between the local people and the policy makers of the reconstruction process.

References

UNESCO (2009) Identifying and Inventorying Intangible Cultural Heritage. [Online] Available from: http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/doc/src/01856-EN.pdf [Accessed: 10th June 2015].

UNESCO Kathmandu (2006) Heritage Homeowner’s Preservation Manual, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001520/152020m.pdf [Accessed: 9th of June 2015].

Nepal National Building Code (1994), http://mundamak.gov.np/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/NBC111_Steel.pdf https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwFRjxgvlvpFUjZXei1iS3Zta2c/edit [Accessed: 9th June 2015].

Bodach Susanne, Werner Lang, and Johannes Hamhaber (2014) ‘Climate responsive building design strategies of vernacular architecture in Nepal’, Energy and Buildings, Vol. 81 , pp. 227-242.

Bhattarai Vibha (2003) ‘Neighborhood conservation around the world heritage sites in Nepal: a study on the Kathmandu Palace Square’, (The University of Hong Kong, The Centre of Urban Planning and

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