School at Kargyak

Time frame:Aug 2010-11

Role:Architect, Construction manager

Link:Sponor NGO Blueland

I designed and managed the construction of a primary school for 100 students. The school was constructed in a small, remote village of Kargyak in the Himalayas, at a height of about 4200m above sea level.

The remote and extreme location of the project posed several challenges. These included: (1) cold climate, (2) earthquake prone zone, (3) no electricity, (4) limitation of human resource, (5) low budget, and (6) extreme difficulty in procuring and transporting construction material.

In my building design I addressed each of the above challenges:

  1. Cold climate: I designed a kidney shaped building to provide for an aerodynamic structure that could resist the harsh winds. I used architectural elements such as double glazing and trombe walls to ensure insulation and heat trapment. For the same reason, I designed insulated roof and thick walls with external material as stone and interior of mud. I also designed an underground heating system, inspired by the ancient Roman system of hypocaust.
  2. Earthquake prone zone: I designed foundation beams made of concrete to provide stability and resilience.
  3. No electricity: I utilized solar panels for electricity and designed large window panels to let sunlight in.
  4. Budget & human resource: I employed people from the local community to compensate for the lack of human resource. This provided the local community for short-term employment and got them engaged with the project which ensured its future success.
  5. Procurement of construction material: this was a huge challenge due to the remoteness of the village. I procured steel reinforcement bars and had them cut and rolled with a thickness of less than 1 metre so that they could be carried by mules. I undertook a hike of 3 days with the mules to get the material to the construction site.

I feel immensely proud that today the school is being run by the local government and has about 80 students enrolled. Also, the school building is used as a community center by the local people, after school hours.