PV installation at the Druk White Lotus school completes
The Druk White Lotus School is located in harsh and arid terrain. It draws its 380 pupils from the area surrounding the village of Shey, Ladakh, in a remote region of the Himalayas in Northern India. The school is a modest yet outstanding example of truly sustainable design conceived under the patronage of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
In contrast to conventional ways of working, the project was established to reflect traditional values and culture at a time when the community is under tremendous pressure to change. Working on site with the local committee for almost 15 years, Arup Associates and Arup have generated an architecture that retains the primacy of local formal and material traditions while integrating a setting for learning drawn from a modern transcultural experience.
This is an environment of extremes. At 3,500 metres above sea level, it is a high-altitude desert landscape. In this severe and fragile ecological context the development incorporates every available strategy to reduce resource consumption. Traditional materials are used; locally excavated stone, mud bricks, timber and grass. Walls contain outer leaves of hand-crafted granite blocks set in mud mortar. Traditional mud brick masonry is used internally, the whole providing increased thermal performance and durability in comparison to the local rendered mud brick equivalent.
The solidly earthquake resistant buildings rely on principles of natural ventilation, appropriate orientation and – for the residential buildings – trombe wall passive solar heating construction. The school provides a safe, sustainable and pleasant learning environment to standards previously unavailable in Ladakh, and responds to the specific cultural needs of local people.
Arup Associates have funded 60% of the £50,000 PV installation costs as part of a voluntary agreement with Drukpa Trust.