IMAP Lecture 1 by John Sanday
- 23 October, 2011
Why the Need for Public Space?
The innumerable squares, streets and landmarks of Kathmandu once stood as distinctive evidences of the valley’s highly developed cultural and socio-political legacy. The architecture and urban design of the old city gave a sense of systematic layout of its core elements. From it’s civic squares (dabalees) to waterspouts to dwellings and thoroughfares, the three major old cities in the valley gave a sense of cultural sophistication and, in their planning, clarity of thought, spatial awareness, sense of aesthetics and purpose.
It has not been very long since the city’s elegant heritage has been consumed by the cancerous urban sprawl that transformed it into a confused and characterless metropolis. This rapid devolution of cultural and spatial integrity can be attributed to its failure to adapt to changing trends and commercialization. In-migration, political instability, lack of awareness and absence of will to conserve these significant spaces for posterity has not only hindered the city’s normal pattern of growth but has inflicted psycho-social impacts upon its dwellers and visitors alike.
How can a city of such great cultural significance as that of Kathmandu, Lalitpur or such architectural masterpieces as Bouddhanath, become so changed and corrupted in less than two decades? What can be done to help these cities recover their former glory? And more importantly why do we as a society even need public open spaces?
John Sanday will focus on the significance of public spaces, particularly focusing on historical and cultural significant sites.
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John Sanday is a British architect who has spent the last 36 years living and working in Nepal. As one of the leading architectural conservators in Asia, he has travelled and worked all over the sub-continent on a wide and varied assortment of historic buildings ranging from monasteries in the high Himalaya, palaces in India, and since 1989 in Cambodia.
Sanday has spent most of his professional career based in Nepal, where he has worked on many of the major historic sites in the Kathmandu Valley. His projects in the Kathmandu Valley include the Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace, Kathmandu, and a host of smaller temple projects throughout the Kathmandu Valley. Sanday and his team have also been involved in the development of various master plans. He coordinated the Kathmandu Valley Master Plan; updated the Lalitpur Durbar Square Action Plan and revamped the Swayambhu Master Plan. In the high Himalaya, Sanday has worked on several Buddhist monasteries and he was the Field Director for the American Himalayan Foundation’s cultural heritage programmes in the Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang, where he directed the repair and conservation of Lomanthang and its 15th century Buddhist monastic complexes.
Sanday is chairman of a multi-disciplinary architectural practice John Sanday Associates, he is the Regional Director of Global Heritage Fund for Asia Pacific and has been awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth for his contributions to world conservation.
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