Kargyak Learning Center
Kargayak, India
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Community school building in a village in the Himalayas.

image: Himanshu Lal, Arch I platform | © all rights reserved
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Category:
education
Phase:
in use
Design:
Arch I platform: Anne Feenstra, Kushal Lachhwani, Himanshu Lal, Sneha Khullar
Updated:
19 October 2015
introduction

Kargyak is a picturesque village at +4,200m in the Zanskar Valley of the mighty Himalayas. The village is inaccessible for 7 months every year due to snow and the absence of roads in most parts of the valley. In an attempt to find solutions to such challenges and fulfill immediate needs of the children in Kargyak and its surrounding villages, the government sanctioned a standard school for 40 children.

 

South elevation

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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natural context

image: Arch I Platform | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak Learning Centre

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Concept sketches

image: Arch I Platform | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak Learning Centre

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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cultural and social context

During design and construction a 124 people live in this small village, at forty two hundred meters above sea level. The village is struggling to prolong its existence in the Zanskar valley in the mighty Himalayas. Despite the fact that it is one of the few places left in India where clean drinking water is available in abundance, Kargyak and its inhabitants have other challenges to deal with.

Roundings

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Kargyak kids

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak

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materials and building techniques

To be able to build as much as possible using the materials available within 500 m of the site, stone and mud were chosen as the primary building materials for the school. All of the houses, storage sheds and the gompa (temple) have been constructed by the villagers themselves without any external expertise. The material palette consists of mud bricks and stone for the walls and timber beams, hay and mud for the roofs. These structures often become vulnerable to snow and wind and are not able to stand more than six months without regular repair.

With constraints related to a the limited availability of building materials, a short construction season and a continuous struggle against wind and snow on site, a well thought and detailed process of construction was required, and creative solutions were needed to build a sustainable, long lasting structure.

Transport of materials

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Laying the foundation

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Transporting the stones

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Mud bricks

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak people building

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak Learning Centre 4200 m above seal evel

image: Arch I Platform | © all rights reserved
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Climate concept transferred into basic lay out

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Building Techniques

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earth and climate

The materials as well as construction tools had to be purchased from the nearest town of Manali via a three day trek. For instance, for the RCC foundation ring beam the steel bars had to be taken to Kargyak on mules. Getting cement and glass on site was also a challenge. The glass panel size had to be restricted to a maximum of 4 feet so that it does not get difficult for the mule to carry it on narrow paths over a 5,100 m altitude Himalayan pass. As the altitude of the village is way above the tree line, wood is a rare commodity. For the roof the large wooden beams were transported on sledges over the frozen river in winter.

Environment

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Environment

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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image gallery
One day trek to Kargyak

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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School site

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak Learning Centre south perspective

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Foundation

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Ring beam

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Kargyak kids

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Entrance

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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Detail by local carpenters

image: Himanshu Lal | © all rights reserved
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technical drawings
Plan

image: Arch I Platform | © all rights reserved
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South elevation

image: Archi I Platform | © all rights reserved
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Tromb wall section

image: Arch I Platform | © all rights reserved
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Location
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Keyword:
community practice (101)
craftsmanship (25)
mountains (4)
mud brick (24)
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