Established in 2016, the Nepal Architecture Archive (NAA) is a unique repository of research conducted by national and international scholars and practitioners on the built landscape of Nepal across time.
The conceptual premise of our archive emerged from a spontaneous and spirited conversation – between Arun Saraf, Namita Saraf, Neils Gutschow and Eric Theofiled – at the Yak and Yeti bar, in 2009, which quickly morphed into a detailed restoration and documentation project. As the Saraf Foundation initiated the Taragaon restoration project, in parallel, we also began researching and acquiring documents on the nuanced histories of our landscape. Today, NAA consists of a comprehensive collection of sketches, photographs, indigenous architectural drawings, and detailed documents on the material culture of Nepal.
These archival documents are digitized – under the guidance of Eka Resources – and are now accessible to the public on written requests. As part of our objective on heritage preservation, the Saraf Foundation continues to work with locals and expatriates to collect and organize documents and archival material relevant to the region. Thus, archiving is an ongoing process at NAA, a spacethat also provides a secure and controlled environment with adequate material storage facilities for the acquired documents.
NAA receives diverse collections of materials regularly, which then undergo a digital scanning process, online references, and copyright adjustment according to international copyright standards. Thus, we play an integral role in ensuring that indigenous architecture and baatsukala – the understanding of traditional processes, materials, and designs – are preserved and rendered accessible to architects that lead renovation and restoration projects. After the earthquake of 2015, NAA provided authentic documents to the restoration team at Kasthamandap, and thus, it was rebuilt as per the original design and materials.
Scholars whose works feature at the NAA include: Niels Gutschow, Wolfgang Korn, Jørgen Rahbek Thomsen & Jens Wærum (Danish Architects team), John Harrison, Andreas Brandt, Robert Powell, Konstanty Gutschow, Thomas Kelly, Tiziano Terzani, Axel Weller, Klaus Kunzmann, Klaus Kette, Franz Frei, Ulrich Burscher, Thomas Turscher, Raimund Wuldz, and Peter Herrle amongst others.
In 2013, as the Taragaon restoration project began, around 150 exhibits were collected from various renowned scholars who worked in Nepal. Over the years, this collection continued to grow, and by 2015, nearly 2000 archives were housed at the Saraf Foundation. Due to this tremendous response, we received an impetus to establish a physical archive – and thus NAA was conceptualized, designed, and launched in 2016, with the support of Neils Gutschow and his team.
The largest collections were received from a Danish group of architects, as well as Wolfgang Korn, Dr. Becker, Peace Corp. volunteers, Barbara Adams, and Neils Gutschow, who also supported the collection of wood carvings and pottery from Bhaktapur and old brick samples from various monuments.
Over the years, the Foundation has received different types of materials including: Architectural drawings, maps, sketches, photographs, slides, negatives, beta tapes, books, research documents, reference documents, proposals, feasibility studies, unpublished reports, diaries, manuscripts and digital materials.