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An Insight into Traditional

Spitian Architecture

Chemi Lhamo in conversation with Namgial Lhundup 

Upon entering any Spitian village, the most striking aspect is the cluster of white mud houses dotted beautifully against the blue sky and gigantic barren mountains. The design, aesthetics, and material composition of the houses are uniquely Spitian – evolved and adapted to suit the cold mountain desert.

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Conversation with a Gyangon-da: a mud house builder & stone mason
An interview with Chhuldim Pempa

Demul is a remote high-altitude village in Spiti known for its beautiful meadows and pastures. The villagers are agro-pastoralists and still actively practice their traditional ways of agriculture, livestock rearing, and herding. This village is also home to many Spitian artisans skilled in building traditional mud houses, Dor-si (stone mason), Shingso-wa (carpenter), and Gyanghon-da (earthen wall builder).

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Blending Traditional Architecture with Contemporary Design
Swaroopa Damle in conversation with Gopal Negi 

Many changes are taking place in Kinnaur and growing access to the market, connectivity is certainly impacting how we build houses these days and RCC-based buildings are becoming more popular. When I decided to build my house in Hango a few years back, I was very conscious of building it in a way that amalgamates traditional wisdom, and vernacular designing techniques with a modern sensibility.

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Pearls of wisdom from a master artisan

In conversation with Lobzang Choephel & Chhering Phuntsok

Building with an earthen material is a craft, a philosophy where nature is at the center of the entire life cycle of a building. From its conception, sourcing, material usage, and construction till the inevitable end when the material returns to earth as compost, there’s a balanced, harmonious unison with nature. The renewable nature of the natural material renders it environmentally more sensitive and less disruptive to the land and ecosystems around it.

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Conversation with a Shing-zowa: a master wood craftsman
Rinchen Tobge in conversation with Angdui Phuntsok

There is a deep connection between people’s livelihood, their way of life, development changes that happen in the region, and how it shapes the local architecture. Spiti’s architectural changes have certainly undertaken an interesting trajectory and as a local artisan, I am still grappling to find balance and navigate the changes

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Memories, Nostalgia, and a Forgotten Practice
By Nonie Rawat

The unregulated flow of heavy tourists can have many adverse effects on the local ecology and architecture. It will influence changes in the land use, will cause urbanization, large-scale construction of tourist facilities, illegal constructions, changes in the vernacular design orientation, increased waste pollution, and degradation of local aesthetics which are attuned to its natural surroundings.


Spiti Valley Architecture – a Lesson in Sustainable Design
By Kimberly Moyle

The need to survive the harsh winters in this remote location has seen the evolution of a highly intelligent system of bio-climatic design. Traditional homes have been constructed with a deep understanding of the regional climate as well as the specific site conditions.

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