week long workshop on “Envisioning Future of Old Towns: The people’s way” (23rd-29th March, 2015) concluded in Kathmandu highlighting the essentiality of conservation and promotion of traditional culture and heritage within city redevelopment. The workshop was organized by Lumanti Support Group for Shelter
, in partnership with Community Women Forum
(CWF) with support from ACHR
with the aim to bring communities in different peri-urban communities in Kathmandu together and think collectively on their status as old heritage towns. The workshop provided an opportunity for architects, designers and planners to participate in community processes on the ground, as well as creating a platform for the communities to establish a partnership with the National government.
National and international young architects, together with community people representing 10 peri-urban cities from Kathmandu, Lumanti members and the Community Womens Forum participated in the workshop. CAN representatives shared their experiences on participatory city planning, giving the participants incentive and ideas on how to develop city proposals. More than 60 community members from Tokha, Khokana, Panga, Machhegaon, Thankot, Thecho, Chyasal, Inaya Tole, Thaiba and Sano Gaon areas participated in the workshop. 16 young architects from Nepal also participated, supporting the community members in the mapping process. For the workshop one group was assembled per town, and local people discussed together with the youth architects on the traditional culture, heritage and monuments in the respective areas, identifying issues, challenges and opportunities to the cities.
The peri-urban cities of Thecho, Sanogaon and Thankot were selected for site visits, in which the youth team of architects and the community people learnt about the existing status of culture and heritage and were exposed to the initiatives underway in preserving their traditional culture and heritage.
Machhegaon settlement was chosen as the prime focus of the workshop, a settlement of 800 households with the historically important temple of Machhe Narayan. During the workshop extensive field visits and mapping of the issues were conducted in Machhegaon to help target places and proposals for heritage conservation. Three main issues were mapped out: 1. Encroachment and privatization of public spaces and heritage structures, 2. Conservation and revival of water body in Machhe Narayan Temple, 3. Waste management and infrastructure development. The architect team together with the people of Machhegaon community identified in detail challenges and opportunities of the culture and heritage in Machhegoan as well as developing a short-term, mid-term and long-term plan for the conservation of the traditional culture and heritage monuments in Machhegaon. Community representatives presented the results of the workshop during the closing ceremony to all the participants and select members from the government.
The department of Urban Development and Building Construction, a national government agency responsible for urban issues, have shown interest to support the proposals put forward by the community members in Machhegoan. This is definitely a new beginning, a way forward for linking the communities in urban communities with the National government. Bishnu Devi Womens Cooperative of Machhegoan (a savings group network) played a key role in organizing the workshop in Machhegaon, and the women in the community will take a lead role in following up of the activities after the workshop.