and conservation of World Heritage are matters of international interest and demanding, complex tasks. Particularly in Nepal,
where the Kathmandu Valley’s World Heritage Property is endangered by recurring earthquakes – the most recent one hit the
region in 2015 – challenging climatic conditions, inappropriate repairs, and lack of maintenance. Since decades, it has thus
been a focus of Austrian research and restoration activities. The Patan Durbar Square, a unique and exceptional testimony
of architectural variety and outstanding craftsmanship with monuments dating from the 16th to the 18th century, thereby always
received particular attention. The planned research follows and builds on this tradition, going one step further. In the framework
of a 3-year project the Institute of Conservation at the Austrian University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Nepalese Kathmandu
Valley Preservation Trust join forces to provide the scientific base for the sustainable preservation and management of Patan’s
aim is to gain a better understanding of the condition of the monuments built in brick, timber, and stone through the study
of damage and decay patterns and the comprehensive assessment of risks, which threaten the cultural property. Thus, deterioration
mechanisms and the most devastating damage factors to be tackled can be identified. But the project looks not only ahead and
thinks about future conservation strategies; it also looks back and examines historic and current conservation measures. The
effectiveness and sustainability of materials and methods in the challenging Nepalese environment are assessed, differences
in conservation philosophies are traced and forgotten traditional preservation practices are uncovered and revived. At the
same time, the role of craftsmanship and other forms of intangible cultural heritage, which is living and omnipresent in the
Nepalese environment, with regard to conservation-restoration is examined.
The interdisciplinary project brings together not only students, early-stage and senior
researcher, but also conservators-restorers, architects, engineers, art historians, craftsmen, and traditional knowledge-bearers.
An open mindset and constant lively exchange between
all parties enable to benefit from the cultural diversity and offer opportunities for learning from each other and capacity
building in the field of conservation on site.
Preserving World Heritage is practically a mission
impossible, if it is not supported and carried by the local community
and wider public. Thus, the project pays particular attention to broad media coverage, production of films and documentaries,
participation at research events and exhibitions as well as open discussions. These efforts raise not only awareness for the
vulnerability of Nepalese built cultural heritage on a local and international level but create a broader understanding for
the need of further conservation scientific research.