Young architect restores the glory of Himachal’s traditional architecture ‘Kath-Kuni’

Running an organization called NORTH, a center for Himalayan craftsmanship and design innovation in small-town Naggar of Kullu Valley, Rahul Bhushan, 29, an alumnus of CEPT is not just creating new structures but also restoring old houses and converting them to Kath Kuni (wood & corner) style homestays.

The majestic ‘Kath-Kuni’ buildings which use locally available wood and stone as prime materials for construction are a sight to behold in Himachal Pradesh, particularly for city dwellers inhabiting the concrete mansions.

Kath-Kuni abodes are native to this middle Himalayan belt which includes Kullu, Manali, Chamba, Shimla, and some parts of Uttarakhand. Kangra and Spiti regions still have plenty of such houses made of mud and stone.e

Apart from being environmentally friendly, it keeps the cold out and can survive earthquakes due to its high tensile strength. ‘Kath-Kuni’ is made of two words — ‘Kath’ meaning ‘wood’ and ‘Kuni’ meaning ‘corner’.

Structurally these traditional buildings differ from conventional building methods as they are on horizontal beams rather vertical ones which are reinforced with ‘criss cross’ bracings to build an entirely wooden structure.

Even the joineries are made of wood. The weight of tightly packed stones provides stability to the structure while the wooden beams provide flexibility. Slate tiles are used to lay the roof, their weight presses the entire structure downwards and adds further to its stability.

After completing Masters’s and obtaining high academic knowledge, Rahul decided to return to Himachal to start an enterprise of his own, ‘North,’ a center for Himalayan craftsmanship and design innovation. It is a community of artists, environment-conscious, and creative souls who wish to create a positive impact on society. It inspires sustainable ways of living through natural building, organic farming, and appropriate technology.

Currently, he strives to revive an ancient style of Himachali architecture called ‘Kath kuni’. Traditionally popular in the state of Himachal, this style of construction uses carved wooden structures which are earthquake resistant.

In addition to creating new structures, Rahul is also trying to restore some old houses and convert them to Kath Kuni style homestays.

This effort not only revived some old properties falling apart but also ensured sustainability for the local villagers who were otherwise finding it hard to maintain them. To make these homestays more viable for tourism, Rahul further designed activities such as “vacation with an artist”, cultural walks in the villages, workshops on bee harvesting, and so on.

Designing for the future when it looks bleak is indeed the need of the hours and indigenous knowledge, skills and craftsmanship will always prove to be favorable in creating sustainable livelihoods for the locals while ensuring environmental balance and continuity at the same time.

Images from “live_north” Instagram

Leave a Reply

© Authindia 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Hey, Wait...

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to be a part of our thriving art community! 

Newsletter Form (#2)