Bhaktapur, a city near Kathmandu, in Nepal is renowned for culture, traditions and its ancient monuments. Bhaktapur is a clean and quiet city and is also known as the cultural capital of Nepal. As the race of civilization is at its highest peak, people are confirmed to turn this beautiful ancient city into a concrete jungle, not knowing the value of what their ancestors have left for them is a beautiful masterpiece of traditional architecture. I (the owner, designer and also the contractor of the project, Rabindra Puri) from my early childhood was deeply in love with the beautiful temples and monuments that surrounded my neighborhood and I grew up playing with them and observing them. I dreamt of restoring the ones that were worn out and neglected and my heart wept when they were pulled down mercilessly and took an ugly concrete shape. From an early age, I started collecting wooden art works like windows, pillars from old houses which had no value for others but I had already build up a concept in my mind how I would reuse them.
I wanted to build something that would catch the sights and thoughts of the people, and I wanted to set an example that how one could maintain the ancient architectural method building a house using the modern amenities without destroying its ancient looks and values. It was very difficult for me to convince people what I was trying to do and it was a hard job standing all alone doing something new. But once the work was complete I knew it would be easier to set an example. People began to notice the work and the beauty that our tradition had.
The present Model House was a typical Newari house owned by farmers. The house was totally neglected and it was in a very bad state. Nobody lived in the house for ten years and there were rumors that the house was haunted. It was used as a chicken farm for the last five years before it was restored. When the restoration work started certain elements were found which indicated the house to be about 150 years old.
The house has been restored as it was before without changing its original shape. Most of the materials have been reused and only a few had to be purchased which were worn out or were completely not usable. About 40% of the weak part of the house had to be demolished and rebuilt. There is a saying that “It is difficult to make but easy to break”, and in that manner it was very hard to save all the wooden frames, windows and bricks when the house was being demolished. The workers had to be repeatedly told again and again to be very cautious. All the usable materials were reused and when the materials have to be replaced, it was replaced from collection (like tiles, pillars, strut etc.). Only very few materials and materials for modern facilities like bathroom were used new. For the interior decoration traditional and local materials have been used. The restoration methodology was totally traditional. Some modern earthquake resistant measures have been also adopted.
The house was recstored in a time span of about a year and a half. The house was bought in 1998. The constructionwork was started in September 1999 and it was completed in 2001 March. The house became so popular in such a short time, already in June 2001 the house was declared a model house from the Bhaktapur Municipality. The appreciations and success of the project were proven by the visitors of the house (thousands), articles written by almost all the newspaper of Nepal and 5 different documentary films shown by Nepal Television and Channel Nepal as well as by an Indian Channel called B4U Music.
The area of the project is 259.21 square meters but the house is built in an area of 84.8 square meters and there is a garden and a lawn in front of the house. The total cost in restoring the house is 17,000 US$ which was financed by myself.
As my main purpose was attracting people towards restoration, I adopted some modern facilities in the house. I made a comfortable bathroom, a modern kitchen and a terrace, which were not there before. But of course I gave a traditional touch to them.
Many foreigners as well as Nepalese people come to visit the house. That means the house is more or less like a museum. Exhibitions and cultural events are also organized in the house. The house has also got a guest room, which is available for scholars who comes to Bhaktapur for the studies and researches. The house also serves as my workshop and working place.