Where a person works matters more than where he is born. Although Dr. Niels Gutshow was born in Germany, he spent all his productive life promoting and preserving Nepal’s architecture.
Renowned German archeologist Dr. Gutshow, a professor at Heidelberg University, received the Fukuoka Prize 2011 at a special function at Patan Durbar Square in recognition for his work.
The function was organized by Fukuoka Award Committee, with support from Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust and Embassy of Japan in Nepal, and the amount of the prize is equivalent to Rs. 2.5 million.
“As an architectural historian and conservator, Dr.Niels Gutschow has made a remarkable contribution to the conservation and revival of historical buildings. In particular, he has developed conservation programs for ancient and religious buildings, including neglected religious sacred sites and buildings which are on the verge of collapse in Nepal, India, Pakistan, thus greatly stimulating progress in conservation theories and techniques, and having a practical influence on conservation practices across
Asia and in Japan,” said Dr. Fujihara Keiyo, a professor of Kyusyu University and vice chair of arts and culture selection committee while reading out the prize citation for Dr. Niels Gutschow.
Although Dr. Gutschow was born in Germany, his contribution in preserving Nepal’s historical site is highly important. “In Nepal, there are many historical and architectural works made of bricks and wood. These construction materials are peculiar to the historical buildings in Asia. Dr. Gutschow has shed a light on the historical value and significance of those buildings through his research focusing on the characteristics of those unique materials and the history of the construction methods, thus established the most suitable technological solution to the architectural conservation in Nepal,” said Dr. Keiyo.
Kunio Takahashi, Ambassador of Japan to Nepal, expressed his happiness to take part in such an important program. “Nepal is a naturally and culturally beautiful country and I am happy to be a part of the program which is organized to recognize a person dedicated to preserve the architecture of Nepal,” said Japanese ambassador Takahashi.
Welcoming the guests, chairman of Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust Dr. Safalya Amatya said that honoring Dr. Niels Gutschow is an honor to Nepal’s preservation efforts. “Gutshow has made an enormous contribution in preserving Nepal’s architecture. He is one of the most deserving for this,” said Amatya.
Dr. Gutschow came to Nepal just after completing his university education forty years ago. The architecture and artisans of Bhaktapur attracted him so much that he finally made Bhaktapur as his next home.
Speaking at the program, Dr. Gutschow said this award has recognized his preservation efforts. This is not only his success but the success of all Nepalese artists and artisans who were involved in this novel task.
Earlier, Nepali scholar Dr.Ram Dayal Rakesh secured Fukuoka Prize in 2004 in folk culture studies. The award winners include Bangladesh’s noble laureate Mohammad Yunus in 2001, and Zhang Yimou, film director from China.
Established in 1990 to honor outstanding achievements by individuals or groups/ organizations in preserving and creating unique and diverse cultures of Asia, the aim of the award is to foster and increase awareness of the value of Asian cultures as well as to establish framework within which Asians can learn from and share with each other.