The significance of historic urban squares in generating contemporary city identity: case study of Patan Durbar Square

Traditional urban spaces contribute to delivering city’s unique ethos that helps to build urban identity and gives character to a place. However, these historic hubs are constantly being challenged by the growing conflict between the modern needs and the traditional values. This chapter presents a case study of Patan Durbar Square, one of the historic palace squares in the Kathmandu Valley built during the Malla period. The chapter examines how the palace square strives to exhibit a collective identity and what symbolic messages it conveys against the backdrop of the currently changing urban setting. This research is based on observations of the study area followed by interviews with the key informants and interactions with the general public. The study employs qualitative evaluation of the urban space in question and offers a detailed description of the phenomenon of spatial transformation. Through the discussion of the issues and challenges faced by the current transformation of the Durbar Square area, this research highlights that in developing and managing historic urban squares in old and cultural cities like Kathmandu, undermining its ancient forms to participate in modernization will question its legitimacy, especially when contemporary changes are set within the already existing built environment.
public space, historic urban squares, city identity, Patan Durbar Square
Shrestha, B., & Chitrakar, R. M. (2020). The significance of historic urban squares in generating contemporary city identity: Case study of Patan Durbar Square. In R. Chitrakar & B. Shrestha (Eds.), Revisiting Kathmandu Valley’s public realm: Some insights into understanding and managing its public spaces. Nova Science Publishers.