Carlo Ratti Associati designs a digitally connected retreat in the Indian Himalayas that aims to promote more sustainable tourism patterns. The project stems from a collaborative, iterative design process with the local community. Situated in West Bengal, near the border with Sikkim, the project aims to promote more sustainable tourism patterns, taking advantage of the increased living-and-working flexibility of the digital era. Buildings have been designed through an iterative process that involved local residents, craftsmen and practitioners from the surrounding area. Construction will break ground on August 31st, 2016.
The Pankhasari Retreat is located in a mild-climate valley in India’s Darjeeling region, not far from the famous hillstation of Kalimpong. The site is a south-facing mountain bound by a swift river and waterfalls, not far from Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. The sacred black boulders that punctuate the site are incorporated into the design, which is split over three stacked volumes connected by a covered foot bridge. The complex includes residential, business, sport, and farming facilities. The houses, built with local materials like stone, farmed teak and sissoo, reinterpret the verandas and overhangs of the vernacular architecture, protecting residents from extreme rain and sun conditions. Each unit can host three or four people at a time, with living space, studio, kitchen, two bedrooms and bathrooms.
Built-in furniture serves as a focal point in each of the three volumes that compose the complex, creating a “living around the fireplace” model where all activities take place. With its mix of working and leisure facilities, the Retreat exemplifies the ongoing changes in our lifestyle facilitated by the emergence of global communication networks. High-speed Internet connection and extensive teleworking facilities permit international travellers to stay for longer periods of time at Pankhasari. The project responds to the environment using bioclimatic principles in architectural design, with specific focus on cooling and shading, improving natural ventilation, and protection against monsoon. With its light, resilient structure, the buildings that compose the retreat could be dismantled, eventually restoring the land to its original state. Source by Carlo Ratti Associati.
- Location: Darjeeling region, India
- Architects: Carlo Ratti Associati
- Partner: Michele Bonino
- Local architect: Ashish Sharan Lal of Alleya and Associates
- Structural engineer: Sankha Choudhuri
- Client: ASCO Projects Pvt.Ltd.
- Year: 2016
- Images: Courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati
Article by Marco Rinaldi