Disaster resilient vernacular housing technology in Nepal

Type Journal Article - Geoenvironmental Disasters
Title Disaster resilient vernacular housing technology in Nepal
Volume 3
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40677-016-0036-y/fulltext.html

Disasters like earthquakes and flood cause enormous loss of lives and property in Nepal frequently. However, during such events particular types of houses are found to be more resilient than common types of housing stocks. This paper outlines the disaster resilient vernacular housing technologies in two of the physiographic regions of Nepal. The vernacular houses are analyzed in terms of their performance and shortcomings during earthquake and flood disasters and found to be technologically resilient in many aspects of impending disasters in Nepal distributed within the physiographic regions. Using the comparative case study approach, field visits and non-structured interviews with local people, the resilient features in terms of construction technology of vernacular houses are identified in this study and the preliminary findings are highlighted as observed during the field visits without numerical modeling and analysis. The seismic performance of Rajbanshi, Gurung and Magar houses in Nepal during 1934, 1988 and 2015 earthquakes is presented in order to justify the performance of these particular housing stocks.

The vernacular construction technology in Terai is found to be technologically resilient in terms of floods and earthquakes, and earthquake resistant technologies are identified in the dwellings of the western mid-hill of Nepal. The traditional Rajbanshi houses in eastern Nepal are found to be resilient in terms of earthquake and flood disasters and the Gurung and Magar houses in western mid hills are found to be resilient in terms of earthquake disaster. The statistical distribution of housing stocks is presented and survival scenario is discussed with regard to specific building features. Apart from this, the field reconnaissance after Gorkha earthquake in western Nepal shows better performance of buildings with identified features in comparison to common housing stocks in neighborhoods.

As there is no instant possibility of enforcing building codes and guidelines for earthquake and floods resistant construction technologies and replacing the structures by modern reinforced concrete construction across the country and even people throughout Nepal are not able to afford the modern aspects of disaster resilient constructions; identified resilient features of houses are instrumental in assuring safety, serviceability, cultural comfort, patrimony and resilient livelihoods in rural and suburban setups of Nepal. The vernacular constructions also incorporate the cost effectiveness with proper use of local materials and cultural reflections in housing units. Global paradigms have shown significant performance during past disaster events, so replication of such technology with due incorporation of strengthening measures may be pivotal for country like Nepal.

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