Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh uses Pashmina scraps and mud bricks to build space for ‘Looms of Ladakh’

Experts of HIAL and Earthling Ladakh roll up their sleeves to build various facilities of natural dyeing and weaving for the elusive looms at the heart of cold desert.

A heritage precinct includes any space that requires conservation for historical or architectural, aesthetic, cultural, environmental or ecological purposes. There could be a single or a multitude of noble causes that may prompt architects to explore sustainable and local solutions.

As per Abhilasha Bahuguna, Founder, Looms of Ladakh, the architectural requirements entail a well-ventilated space that minimises the use of electricity. Open spaces, more south-facing light and the preference for rammed earth construction were also mentioned to Anuroop Babu, an architect with the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL).

Both HIAL and Earthling are designing for the site, but while using local materials and construction techniques with an overall focus on sustainability.

Part of the facility is funded by the ICICI Bank, where weaving will be practiced by indigenous artisans while three other structures, which might serve the purpose of cafe or showroom for tourists, are yet to be funded and constructed.

At Chushul, which is much more remote, the requirements differed. While the need was for a workshop, a guest dorm was also necessary, given that otherwise their designers had difficulty finding accommodation on visits.

As per Anuroop, the space had to be warm enough for the ease of women who sit on the bageshwari charkhas in the biting cold. The brief for us was to come up with a warm space, with a building that is designed to store and use sunlight. HIAL, which designs for sustainable mountain communities, is known for their use of Passive Solar Heating in their building designs.

The building has been built with adobe blocks (called pugbo locally), which consists of sun-dried local earth, sourced from around the site. The building uses sawdust as insulation and is packed between the walls.

For the roof, an innovation, he says, “we approached Looms of Ladakh itself for waste pashmina,” which is the scraps left after processing, which was used to insulate the roof.

Sandeep Bogadhi of Earthling Ladakh was up to the challenge. His practice engages with native design and construction practices, just as the cooperative works with local materials and elevates regional know-how.

The Himalayan region notably bespoke architectural grandeur of the region’s magnificent buildings. Spearheading the modern architecture is the age old ‘Rammed earth technology’ that has been holding centuries old forts, monasteries and such structures intact even to this day.

Source: https://www.architecturaldigest.in/story/sustainable-collective-looms-of-ladakh-celebrates-a-staggering-diversity-of-local-architecture-abhilasha-bahuguna/

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