Open Call: MINIMUM SCHOOL LADAKH

Open Call: MINIMUM SCHOOL LADAKH

Architecture Competition: Open Call: MINIMUM SCHOOL LADAKH

Ladakh is a cold desert in India. Lying in the Great Himalayan Region, it has the mighty Karakoram Range in the North and in the south, it is bound by the Zanskar mountains. The area is remote: the main road linking Ladakh with the rest of India is cut off by snow for six months or more each year.

It is one of the least populous areas of India and is largely rural in nature. The capital city of Leh is the biggest and only urban center in the greater Ladakh region. This is a high-altitude desert environment where water is precious. Agriculture and human settlements depend on water from snow melt, which flows towards the Indus River.

Traditionally, most Ladakhis were subsistence farmers growing mainly barley and vegetables, or they were nomads tending goats and yaks. The opening of a road in the 1960s linking Ladakh with the plains brought large numbers of tourism related activities to the region.

Yet the area still lacks resources and there is a wide knowledge and skill gap between Ladakh and the rest of India. Cultural erosion, climate change and mindless urbanization calls for holistic educational development of Ladakhi children so that they can build this area for the future.

The aim of the competition, MINIMUM SCHOOL is to create a model sustainable school that creates a robust educational community in this remote area. The school shall be built on the foundations of local culture and architecture with an aim to provide high quality modern education. The school should celebrate and enhance Ladakhi traditions and establish a holistic educational and academic community.

The idea of a minimum school is built on the pillars of adaptability, modularity, and sustainability. The school should be built using minimum resources, shall have a minimum energy footprint and create minimum disturbance to the context.

The architectural aspect of the built form (volume, materiality and aesthetic features) should be (inspired from) the local vernacular building techniques. The school should possess the ability to sustain and support the fragile relationship between humans and natural ecosystems.

Not only by designing energy-efficient buildings, but rather by adding improvements to the built world, both at environmental and social levels. In this sense, this prototype is not just a design of a school, but rather a model of thinking that can be replicated in different areas.

The other important aspect is flexibility: the school should not be just a school but rather a machine that is designed in a way that can be used by the whole community, and every time of the day. In this school, each classroom itself is extremely flexible and can host a wide range of didactic activities.

The school should cater to a small community and provide education to around 80-100 children from the vicinity. The age group can vary from kindergarten to 15 years with an aim to democratize education. Good architecture is price-less, not price-full. Architects should aim to maximize the aesthetic and efficiency potential of the minimum school and allow people to dream. It should liberate and uplift the people and make a powerful impact on the community.

Download the information related to this competition here.

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