Kathmandu has been the last few cities in the world which retained its medieval urban culture up until twentieth century. Various Hindu and Buddhist religious practices shaped the arrangement of houses, roads and urban spaces giving the city a distinctive physical form, character and a unique oriental nativeness. In recent decades, the urban culture of the city has been changing with the forces of urbanisation and globalisation and the demand for new buildings and spaces. New residential design is increasingly dominated by distinctive patterns of Western suburban ideal comprising detached or semi-detached homes and high rise tower blocks. This architectural iconoclasm can be construed as a rather crude response to the indigenous spaces and builtform. The paper attempts to dismantle the current tension between traditional and contemporary 'culture' (and hence society) and housing (or builtform) in Kathmandu by engaging in a discussion that cuts across space, time and meaning of building. The paper concludes that residential architecture in Kathmandu today stands disoriented and lost in the transition.
- urban transformation
- residential architecture