The team documented the traditional architecture of Ladakh, via study of a village called Phyang; and learned alternate energy systems, from SECMOL; a sustainable institute, built on the traditional wisdom of the local architecture and processes. Special thanks to Faiza Khan, Suril Patel and the students of the solar course, who helped us understand the varied layers of culture and architecture while the team worked at both SECMOL and Phyang in Ladakh.
At SECMOL, the students were introduced to the various solar passive techniques being used there. The sole purpose remained to be sensitive to the environment through the use of materials, construction techniques and lifestyle, in harmony with nature. Students were introduced to the concept of “SECMOL Time”, a psychological hack to live a meaningful routine. They wanted to make sure that complete utilization of the Sun was made. The interactive sessions with the SECMOL students helped the team gauge their way of life. In this way, the team were able to better analyze the traditions, work and habits of the Ladakhis.
The team also got an opportunity to learn about the new educational system being implemented at SECMOL. The team would interact with the volunteers in order to further improve their communication skills and in the process also learn about the lifestyle and culture of one another. This marked a shift from rote learning to practical hands-on learning.
The team analyzed the solar passive techniques in use at SECMOL, which included earth berming, direct gain windows, trombe walls, thermal mass and insulation through various materials like thermocol or yaksees. Discussions were then held to suggest modifications or newer techniques of solar passive techniques. The concept of traditional "Ladakhi dry toilets" was also introduced to them. In this way, waste generated would be utilised as manure in the fields. The team was exposed to the adobe brick and rammed earth construction. They were made aware of the various renewable energy sources tried and tested at SECMOL.
In the mighty mountains of Ladakh, enveloped from all four sides, lies the picturesque village of Phyang, The documentation of this village was carried out by the team. The entire village was surveyed and then 6 structures of similar architectural typology were chosen to be studied further in detail. These structures were the ones which carried some historic value and took forward the traditional Ladakhi style of building. The team mapped the age of this village, studied its history, discussed the lifestyle of the villagers and made sketches of the various details seen by them.
The team stayed at the homes of locals, who convert their homes into farm stays as an extra source of income. They also helped with work around the house, getting an authentic experience of the habits and traditional lifestyle of the people of Phyang. Each structure was surveyed by the method of triangulation and then the documented plans and sections were drafted on site.
The site was mapped by the team using a sectional elevation of the road that leads through the stretch of the village. These were accompanied with detailed sketches. Resource mapping was carried out for materials sourced for building construction and farming.
Phyang is also the site for the Ice Stupa, an artificial glacier project pioneered by Sonam Wangchuk. The team studied its mechanism and working principles and familiarized themselves with the innovation.
The final phase- the Exhibition aimed at curation, exploring new parameters of representation and aesthetic display of data. This was beyond the regular documentation process of triangulation and surveying of land. While the documentation of the built environment of Leh was in progress, information, photographs and videos were collected with a clear vision of what would be required later.
This exhibition focuses not only on the learnings achieved from there but also the different representational techniques that have been experimented with. A wide range of techniques were used including hand-done sketches and drawings, three dimensional models, digitally generated graphics and sheets, audio visual styles as well as a play on visual reality. The exhibition was a collaborative effort right from its inception. Decisions were taken by the group as a whole at all stages, thus ensuring everyone was on the same page. A large number of brain storming sessions and discussions were carried out. Other exhibitions were studied and analysed with a critical eye for inspiration.
This year, the exhibition is focused on pushing boundaries when it comes to limitations on the styles of representation. It made everyone use their creative sides, pushing us to attempt goals which even we are exploring for the first time. This exhibition hopes to inspire people to learn and carry out similar, innovative methods of presentation.
Ar. Prasad Nakil