The rammed earth walls of the beautifully laid Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, a national archive, in Patan stirs memory of centuries old architecture and building practices in Nepal, yet intricately tended bamboo roof truss and expedient interior design arouses a sense of modernity. However, in rapidly growing concrete settlements, the idea of building structure with locally available materials, such as mud and bamboo is becoming more and more unconventional.
Daring to shift the paradigm of modern building practices, Abari has been providing an alternative to concrete and steel by materializing the use of bamboos in construction. The person behind Abari is Mr. Nripal Adhikary. Adhikary studied architecture in the United States, and had only finished a project in Mongolia and just started working in Europe. But, even after seven years of being away, his growing passion toward the use of natural materials in architecture and desire to work with and for community pulled him back to Nepal. Inspired and stimulated by the amazing history of vernacular architecture in Nepal, he soon started exploring the option of using mud and bamboo structures that were not only very cheap to build as opposed to its cement-and-brick counterparts but also equally strong and resilient if treated appropriately.
What had only started out as his area of interest became his career when Adhikary finally, founded Abari in 2006 AD. Initially, Abari’s work faced much resistance. It was only after they completed their first building that the responses were slightly favorable. However, their projects were small and concentrated only in remote villages. Things took a turn after the earthquake. When Abari-made structures were noticed to have had survived the massive disaster, Abari got recognition among the public. People started to show interest in Abari’s work and in the past few years, the response has been very positive. Their projects have become larger and their technology is increasing becoming accepted by inhabitants in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and few remote villages of Nepal.
After the earthquake, Abari raised funds from various national and international donors to build earthquake-resistant school buildings. They have helped rebuild two schools in Dhulikhel and Kavre each; Saraswoti Secondary School and Janajyoti Primary School. Currently, they are also working to build Earth and Bamboo Material Testing Lab in Kathmandu University.
Adhikary shares that he initially faced huge challenges in setting up an efficient supply chain for the construction projects. He had little knowledge of suppliers of bamboo, rammed earth and other natural materials in Nepal. However, the problem in the supply chain has been overcome to a large extent today. But, finding a robust market for Abari still remains to be a problem. Most of the customers still doubt the durability and strength of the structures and it has been a huge challenge for Abari to convince them and dissolve these doubts.
Despite the many hurdles, Adhikary asserts that his passion keeps him going and his immense love for earth and bambooa helps him persevere. He adds that the appreciation and gratitude he has been receiving and impact he has been making drive him forward. He shares his success with his team and owes it to the team’s work, and is hopeful that things will definitely take a better turn in the long-run. He sees his success in changing the perception of the public towards bamboo and earth as his biggest accomplishment. Most importantly, the bamboos with adobes, stones and reeds, do not only combine traditional architecture with modern engineering, but also build earthquake resistant homes and structures.