Sunday, December 18, 2022

KATMAN ROOFS

 

Been a long time since I fired the amp up. Pure laziness really 不不不

This is a number I used to do when I had a little trio in Harare called King Bee. Seems like another lifetime now.

Somewhat different without bass and rhythm to keep the riff going. But I never really play a song the same way twice anyway.

 



 

2006 and my second year in Dubai. My cousin was working in Nepal. Seemed like a wonderful opportunity. Even more exotic than Mauritius. A chance to explore an alien building tradition, how it works : materials, climate, culture.

I took about 600 photos over the course of a week. Fascinated by the construction details, the texture of the City. Kathmandu is actually three cities, three historic kingdoms, grown into each other until they filled up the valley. Bursting at the seams.

I watched builders working. Like travelling back in time. Special tapered bricks for the front face of buildings to present narrow joints to the outside world.

I had started using Revit by then. The ideal tool to explore the way the Newari people build. Made some good progress over the years but want to get back to it soon.

 




 

The roofs of Kathmandu are something else. In some ways they are similar to the roofs I saw in Volterra. Clay tiles laid over a fairly elaborate substructure with intermediate layers between the timber rafters and the tiles themselves.

Also the eaves details are quite impressive, in their different ways.

I used this study of a Newari house in a session I prepared on ways of conveying organic form and irregularity, typical of vernacular housing but challenging for a tool like Revit.

Sometimes just a few small deviations are enough to recruit our subconscious memories of buildings that bear the marks of time.

 

 

These kinds of views really bring out the power of a tool like Revit. You can begin to show how the building trades fit together in a vernacular tradition such as the Newari House.

It's a very urban form, vertical living with commercial activity on the ground floor, living space above where guests can be entertained and more private domestic activities at the top, including cooking, quite often on an open terrace.

Steep wooden stairs. Low headroom. Chunky hardwood, hand carved. Windows with exaggerated horns built into the brickwork. Hundreds of years of history, increasingly giving way to concrete frames. Sad in a way, but factor in the earthquakes.

Is there a way to get the best of both worlds?




 

I have been doing "BIM pencil" studies for well over a decade now. They range from extended attempts to create historic buildings to quick sketches of vernacular houses. Also diagrammatic sketches of cities that I wanted to understand better.

As a young boy , I was obsessed with drawing. You want to understand something, try to draw it. From the age of 40 my drawing extended into the digital realm, via Autocad. A brief dalliance with Sketchup before I got my hands on Revit.

This interior is from the Newari House model that I shared earlier. It's long overdue for a revisit. Something for my new year list.

 

 

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