Dharahara Tower: also known as Bhimsen Tower. This tower was built in 1832 by then Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa of Nepal under the orders of the Queen. In 1934 earthquake, this tower almost collapsed and it was renovated by then prime minster Juddha Shamsher. It was opened for public in 2005 for viewing from the eighth floor holding a circular balcony which provided a panoramic view of the whole Kathmandu Valley. (Dharahara, n.d.) Sadly, it fell down completely, along it many people also fell and lost their lives.
It has not been there for 4 years. It seems like it will not stand any time soon. Will it re-acquire its dignity if it stands tall again through the rubbles? Will the people who lost their lives in the disaster be remembered? Will the new generation be able to feel the pain and grief that was risen by its fall? All these questions will be answered differently with different perspectives. Here is my perspective on how to rebuild or how to make a memorial that will last for generations to come and to connect in a way that will slowly heal the wound and make each one of us stronger from inside.
Dharahara complex as a whole could be defined as a city’s public space. Hence while redesigning, it could be taken as an innovative public open space which speaks history, at the same time, a lot of emotions attached after it collapsed in 2015 earthquake.
The best remembrance in this city core area could be a museum or a memorial to remind everybody of the disaster that took place on 25th April, 2015. This is very important because people tend to forget the past and remind the new generations about the events. If this is presented as a remembrance to the city and devoted towards the loss of heritage and loss of lives of the people, the future generation will also witness it and be more alert and prepared.
The tower shall be constructed again, not above the ground, but underground. The damaged structure remains as it is, and its story will be told in the underground memorial.
The museum could showcase pictures, photographs of the people and also the places that were most affected, how people were sheltering after the earthquake. Each corner will tell different stories of the people who struggled and survived, how bonding among the neighbours increased, how people were there to help each other and many more events that took place during that time that could connect and inspire. Different artists could come together and express their creative perceptions. This museum would be as a shadow on the ground floor to the monument and it would go underground through which people walk and only after the full story is told they reach the collapsed monument to finally feel the grief. The monument was white in colour and the shadow could be with darker (black) effect, lights would pass through different angles for the displays to be seen.
At the outside, surrounding areas will have open spaces as an urban park where people can relax and interact with each other. It already has a sunken water feature (Hiti) which can be revitalised. The existing shopping block could be converted from enclosed space to open space interacting with the Hiti and the Monument zone. With minimal intervention, this outer space could engage the passersby and leave a feeling of grief and affinity.
- A – The collapsed monument as it is;
- B – The transition between the monument and museum;
- C – The underground museum/memorial which symbolises as shadow of the monument;
- D – Existing park area;
- E – Existing historic Sunken water body (Hiti);
- F – Shaded rest area (Pati);
- G – New layout of the existing street shops (to make the spaces more connected and vibrant);
- H – The Open space achieved after the alteration;
- I – Seating area outside the museum; and
- 1 and 2 are the axes that are created by the existing routes and entrance.
Proposed design derived from :
Dhungel, A. (2015). IDENTITY, LIVEABILITY and RESILIENCE: Open Space Categorisation and Management in Kathmandu Valley. Master’s Thesis: Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences, Freising, Germany.