Dristi Manandhar is a second-year graduate architecture student at University of Oregon who has been working at the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory. But her inspiring story goes far beyond her experiences in the classroom.
On April 25, 2015, Manandhar was with her family at home in Kathmandu, Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. Manandhar was fortunate to lead her parents and younger sister to safety outside. The earthquake resulted in more than 8,000 dead, 21,000 injured, 40 percent of the country’s infrastructure damaged and nearly 505,000 homes destroyed. Manandhar was fortunate to remain safe with her family and see her home only moderately damaged, despite the disastrous effects of the earthquake.
In response to the devastation around her, Manandhar joined the Nepal Engineering Association to assess more than 300 homes’ safety and structural integrity. Dismayed by how helpless she felt telling people that their homes were no longer safe, Manandhar changed her approach. She and six architecture alumni from her university joined forces to design an emergency shelter, using the name Aashraya, Sanskrit for shelter.
The team quickly designed with a dome-like shelter inspired by Eli Kretzmann’s Pakistan flood relief shelters. Aashraya shared the plans and was able to help create over 2,300 shelters in 45 days across Nepal. The domes are both economical and resilient to Nepal’s harsh weather conditions.
At University of Oregon, Manandhar has become the first Nepal Scholarship recipient and a member of the International Cultural Service Program, an international student group that connects students from around the world with community events and engagement opportunities. As a graduate architecture student, she has been researching sustainable design, particularly passive heating and cooling methods in buildings at the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory.
After the past two years away, Manandhar will graduate from the UO in Spring 2017 and plans to return home to pick up where she left off.
Read the full story by Chakris Kussalanant.