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Design principles of Kathmandu Valley architecture - with particular reference to construction and form.

This study of the architecture of the Kathmandu Valley begins with a brief description of the essential characteristics of its history, religion, society and natural environment. Credit is given to the ethnic group of the Newars for their contribution to the architecture of Nepal. The author points out the close cultural links between the architecture of India and Nepal by examining of theoretical treatises on Hindu-architecture (Vastu Vidya) in both countries. The research concentrates on the period of the late Malla-era (1482- 1768). Building materials and their application are described in detail with the aim of illustrating their influence on construction and the formal appearance of Nepalese buildings. The limited number of basic materials -mainly clay products and wood -determine building characteristics. The structural concepts of the main types of building are analysed and classified. This is followed by a minute description of building elements, with an explanation of both technical and formal components. The classification of types of building reveals its mutual dependency on individual formal elements, which changed in the course of history. In this context it becomes clear that it is not merely a change of style but a fundamental modification of the approach to design. The author points out crucial reasons for architectural development: religious movement as the strengthening power of Brahmanism on the one hand, the increasing shortage of building sites within the communities on the other. The latter aspect must be held responsible for the tendency of internal urban growth resulting in high building concentration and high-rise buildings. Although it can be proved that the design principles have remained constant since the end of the Malla-era until now a noteworthy growth of individual design initiated by architects as well as builders, can be traced. The building canons strictly observed during the Malla-period become less determining after the rise of the Shah dynasty in 1768. It is during the middle of the 19th century that one can observe Islamic influence followed by Europeen tendencies. The opening of the country of Nepal in 1951 has caused a fundamental change in building and construction.

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