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Reducing disaster risk to life and livelihoods by evaluating the seismic safety of Kathmandu’s historic urban infrastructure : enabling an interdisciplinary pilot.

Coningham, R.A.E. and Acharya, K.P. and Barclay, C.P. and Barclay, R. and Davis, C.E. and Graham, C. and Hughes, P.N. and Joshi, A. and Kelly, L. and Khanal, S. and Kilic, A. and Kinnaird, T. and Kunwar, R.B. and Kumar, A. and Maskey, P.N. and Lafortune-Bernard, A. and Lewer, N. and McCaughie, D. and Mirnig, N. and Roberts, A. and Sarhosis, V. and Schmidt, A. and Simpson, I.A. and Sparrow, T. and Toll, D.G. and Tully, B. and Weise, K. and Wilkinson, S. and Wilson, A. (2019) 'Reducing disaster risk to life and livelihoods by evaluating the seismic safety of Kathmandu’s historic urban infrastructure : enabling an interdisciplinary pilot.', Journal of the British Academy., 7 (S2). pp. 45-82.


Kathmandu’s cities are exceptional architectural and artistic achievements, underpinned by centuries of seismic adaptation. They represent portals where heavens touch the earth and individuals commune with guiding deities; their tangible and intangible values promoting community cohesion. Kathmandu’s skyline was dramatically altered by the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake as almost 9,000 people died. Hundreds of monuments were damaged or collapsed, resulting in the cancelling of 32 per cent of tourist visits, a major GDP source. Following ODA pledges of US$2.5 billion, Nepal’s Government approved the rehabilitation of many but there are tensions between interpretations of Sendai’s ‘Build Back Better’ framework and the preservation of the authenticity of Kathmandu’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our interdisciplinary North–South partnership piloted the integration of archaeology and geoarchaeology with 3D visualisation, geotechnical and structural engineering to co-produce methodologies to evaluate and improve the seismic safety of historic urban infrastructure, reducing direct risk to life and livelihoods, while respecting and preserving authenticity and traditions and, in some cases, revitalising them.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:The Journal of the British Academy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Date accepted:14 March 2019
Date deposited:20 March 2019
Date of first online publication:07 August 2019
Date first made open access:No date available

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