Location: Himachal Pradesh, India
Situated on a remote plateau by the side of the torrential Malana River, at a height of almost 10,000ft, Malana is a solitary village in the Parvati Valley, to the north-east of Kullu Valley and largely isolated from the rest of the world. The high mountainous terrain in the region is home to several hydroelectric power plants, feeding the growing Indian economy. The project brief was to create a suitable environment for staff housing, while fostering a sense of community.
The central concept of the design was to allow for all houses to get a deeper view than simply looking across the river and to have a large central gathering area which could be used in the evenings and during festivities. This was achieved by angling the orientation of the buildings, allowing them to look into the valleys and catch the much needed sunlight. These were organised around a hardscaped garden that stepped down the bank, allowing the people to approach the river. A large community space with recreational facilities was placed at the other end of the garden. The various apartment sizes are combined into 2 story walk up blocks that form the periphery of the garden.
Building in remote and ecologically fragile areas requires culturally sensitive solutions to sustainability. The vernacular architecture of the region uses a hybrid system of wood beams and stone to create extremely robust walls and the temple to the principle deity of the region, known as Jamlu Devta, best expresses this principle. The fa?ade of the blocks was proportioned to match the spacing of the wood beams, used a screening device for the sun balconies facing the river. The blocks were designed as loadbearing structures with parallel brick walls supporting single span roofs.