For the thesis of the M.Arch program, I want to do something that is able to identify and address the prevalent issues of my home town Kathmandu. Kathmandu valley, the capital city of Nepal is currently largest city in the country in terms of both population and area. The way of constructing buildings has changed drastically in this medieval city in the past few decades. But unfortunately, the city has lost more than it has gained during this transition. Kathmandu was historically a sustainable and well managed city with regard to environment, ecology and infrastructure systems. The traditional architecture of the valley was the outcome of centuries of optimization in materials and technique, a design ideal for its climate. The traditional houses and Squares were planned with specific courtyard systems with row housing and street concept in Grid iron pattern. But with the increase in urbanization, these places have become relatively congested, polluted and unworkable. Internal migration and unplanned activities have plagued the city’s infrastructure, while fast growing number of vehicles has invaded the pedestrian-friendly streets. Kathmandu, due to lack of vision and inability to address the adversity of urbanization, is now failing to satisfy the needs of the growing population also resulting into the major issue of energy crisis. Currently, the city has to endure up to 14 hrs of load shedding (shut down of electrical power for certain time when the demand becomes greater than the supply) per day. Scarcity of water is another problem the city is facing. Though the country is rich in natural water resources, most of the sources are polluted and unusable, resulting in the crisis of drinking water in the capital city.
Considering the current population and the rate at which it is increasing in the Kathmandu city, it can be easily calculated that the problem is only going to get worst. While the rest of the world is researching on zero energy houses, different alternatives to non-renewable energy and constructing the green buildings, the architecture of Kathmandu is yet to mature from the utilitarian purpose. The current trend of building design in Kathmandu is mostly profit oriented and focusing only on the current needs. They lack identity, are non-contextual and most of all, fail to address the environmental issues in this era of energy crisis.
Hence, for my thesis I want to address one of the many current issues of Kathmandu: Energy Crisis. I want to do the research on designing energy efficient building (most probably ‘net zero energy building’). As study shows that currently commercial buildings consume second highest amount of electricity in the city, first being industrial buildings, it seems like a good idea to apply the knowledge of the research on designing a commercial building and then compare it with the existing commercial buildings in the city. That way I will be able to conform that all my studies and researches are successful.