Kath-khuni architecture of Himachal Pradesh, India


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This presentation gives an overview about kath-khuni construction practice prevalent in Himachal Pradesh. More information about the same is available in the book "Prathaa: Kath-khuni architecture of Himachal Pradesh".


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Kath-khuni architecture of Himachal Pradesh, India

  1. 1. Kath-khuni architecture of Himachal Pradesh: A timeless way of building
  2. 2. When we say Indigenous architecture, what do we mean? Dwellings and structures that have responded to the topography and local climate of the region They have been built using locally available resources They have emerged out of hard necessities of the place and the lifestyle They are built by user themselves without professional architects They represent a far less degree of specialization They are dwellings that are a product of traditional customs and practices
  3. 3. Factors influencing vernacular architecture are Topography Climate Materials and Resources Users and lifestyle Construction Technology Culture and Traditions
  4. 4. Source: http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-137842 Topography and Context of Himachal Pradesh Himalayan mountain stretches from India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Length of Himalayas is 2500 km from east to west. Average altitude is 4000 meters.
  5. 5. Source: http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-137842 Topography and Context of Himachal Pradesh Himalayan mountain stretches from India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Length of Himalayas is 2500 km from east to west. Average altitude is 4000 meters.
  6. 6. Himachal Pradesh Land and People
  7. 7. Physical landscape of Himachal Pradesh The land of Himachal Pradesh rises from the plains at an altitude from 350 meters mean sea level on the southwest to an altitude of 6816 meters in the east towards the Tibetan plateau.
  8. 8. Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/India_earthquake_zone_map_en.svg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Himalaya-formation.gif Seismic Zone According to the Global Seismic Hazard Assesment Program (GSHAP) data, Himalayan region falls in a region of high to very high seismic hazard rated as Zone IV and V. From the low-lying plains along the south-west to the mountains along the north-east, the change in altitude is a result of upward thrust cause by grinding and collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates. This drift continues causing Himalayas to rise accompanied by seismic activities.
  9. 9. Altitude Type of area Climatic condition s Rainfall in mm. Shivalik Zone Mid-Hill Zone High hill zone TranceHimalayan Zone Up to 800 m 800m-1,600m 1,600m2,700m 2,700m3,600m Valley areas and foothills Hilly and mountain ranges Alpine zone Lahaul Spiti and Kinnaur range Sub tropical Slightly warm temperature Cool temperatu re with humidity Dry and extremely cold conditions 1,500 1,500-3000 1,0001,500 500 Climate There is a huge variation in the climatic conditions of Himachal Pradesh due to variation in altitude (450–6500 mts). The climate varies from hot and sub-humid tropical (450–900 metres) in the southern low tracts, warm and temperate (900–1800 mts), cool and temperate (1900–2400 mts) and cold glacial and alpine (2400–4800 mts) in the northern and eastern high elevated mountain ranges. Source: http://www.hpagriculture.com/agro.htm Character isticsrs
  10. 10. Source: http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/himachalpradesh/himachalpradesh-forest-map.html Forest and farming 64% of land area is covered with forests in Himachal Pradesh. Because of the existence of these forests, the most predominant material of construction is wood. Primary rooted in a difficult landscape, the lifestyle and economy revolves around farming.
  11. 11. Cedars of western Himalayas Stones hauled from the quarries Slate stones Materials The primary materials of construction here are wood and stone. Among variety of trees, deodar and kail are best suited for construction.
  12. 12. Glimpse of socio-cultural landscape Nearly 90% of the population in Himachal Pradesh is spread in thinly in small village. The rural population has traditionally depended upon agriculture and animal husbandry as prime economic activities. The patterns of built forms and settlements also reflect centrality of these activities .
  13. 13. Artisanal activities Relative isolation , combined with harsh climate, and being cut off in the hills, appear to have encouraged artisanal activities such as wood carving, weaving, embroidery, brass work etc. with a very refined aesthetic sense.
  14. 14. Mohara. Mask as an object of worship, Pujarli 4 Land of Gods: Socio-religious traditions It is no wonder that every hamlet and village in the mountain- no matter how small it may be, worships one or more devatas. This is perhaps the reason why temples occupy site that are experientially highly charged.
  15. 15. Village temple Family courtyard Granaries Indigenous dwellings Settlement patterns- Typical village along stepped contours Temple is at the heart of most settlements and usually sited at the highest spot. The surrounding areas of the temple is mainly used during festivals and religious gatherings by the inhabitants of the particular village
  16. 16. Settlement patterns The traditional settlements appear to have the ‘color of the land’ and appear just right, almost ecologically planned. The landscape, materials, techniques of making, all contribute to a common formal language of settlements in Himachal Pradesh.
  17. 17. Settlement patterns Typically located along the contoured sunny slopes amidst the backdrop of hills and snow-clad mountains and appear to organically grow out of the folds of the landscape.
  18. 18. Kath-khuni An empirical building technique of Himachal Pradesh
  19. 19. Examples of kath-khuni houses A typical house in Himachal Pradesh is built using kath-khuni construction technique and is usually two or three storey high. The lower floor is for the cattle and the upper floors are for residing, storing, and kitchen
  20. 20. Examples of kath-khuni temples The layered treatment is the same as that in a house but they often appear as standlike sentinels in the landscape. The temples may rise much higher from a single storey to a tower with seven storeys.
  21. 21. Darbargadh at Sainj Granaries in Chitlul Other Kath-khuni buildings The darbargadh built in Kath-khuni has very different proportioning system. However the method of construction, remain mostly similar in each case.
  22. 22. Slate roof Wooden projecting balconies Floors Wood and stone walls Stone plinth Typical components of a kath-khuni building It shows a typical house, with guashala at the bottom, and living area on the top capped off by a pent-and-gable roof; temple feature similar elements but different proportions.
  23. 23. 1. Foundation and plinth Stone plinth is filled upto a meter from the ground level and higher in case of tower temples. The depth of the trench is relative to the height of the structure. For a two storey house, the depth is 0.6 to 1 meter and incase of tower temple it may be as deep as 3 meters.
  24. 24. 2. Wall (Wood-and-stone walls) The walls are constructed with alternate courses of dry masonry and wood without any cementing mortar.
  25. 25. Courses 2,4,6 maanvi Kadil (wooden nail) Courses 1,3, 5 Wall courses This type of wall construction involves laying two wooden wall beams longitudinally parallel to each other with a gap in-between. The space between the two members is filled with rubble stone and edge is secured with kadil (wooden nail)
  26. 26. First wooden members Corner stone Typical Kath-khuni wall junction Detail showing layering of wood and stone including a truncated pyramid shaped corner stone to protect the wood
  27. 27. Two parallel crossbeams held together by a dovetailed member Wall construction Dry masonry wood-and-stone wall of a temple construction in Devidhar . Carpenter fixing a wooden log in the wall construction in Devidhar
  28. 28. Wall punctures Windows are provided in walls with solid plank shutters on all four sides and are usually very small. The same window has rhythmic floral carvings on the outer face with a small opening.
  29. 29. Wooden shelves Wooden side boards A typical wall storage unit which flushes within the wall thickness. Wall storage units A typical wall storage unit is fixed in the peripheral wall and flushes within the wall thickness.
  30. 30. Wall storage units The in-built wall storage was an integral part of the wall.
  31. 31. Wooden posts Diagonal braces Cantilevered beams 3. Projecting wooden balconies A typical two storey house with a cantilevered balcony on the top floor. The wooden members supporting the balcony rest on the wall.
  32. 32. 3. Projecting wooden balcony All the vertical posts are connected through a horizontal member on top, on which sit the perpendicular members (connected with a lap joint) projecting from a wall
  33. 33. 3. Projecting wooden balconies Sometimes the balcony façade is open with a parapet or may be closed but with a series of openings to catch all the possible warmth of the sun.
  34. 34. The upper floors are finished in wood and cut is made in the ceiling to connect the first floor and the second floors internally. 4. Floor and stairs The ground floor is raised above the stone plinth and finished with adobe. It functions as an insulating layer and at the same time remains warmer than stone finished surface.
  35. 35. Maanvi Wooden wall beam Floor beam Wooden floor planks Wall and Floor The floor beams are shear pinned with the wall logs. Wooden flooring
  36. 36. 5. Roof The roof structure is constructed out of wooden beams followed by purlins and rafters, topped with slate or wooden shingles.
  37. 37. Masonry wall Wooden rafters Slate stones 5. Roof The slate stones also weighs down the structure against strong winds.
  38. 38. Site leveling and foundation trench Wall construction and door frame Plinth and retaining wall Wall construction with balcony Construction sequence of a typical kath-khuni house
  39. 39. Top floor with balcony with posts Roof structure Fixing the roof structure State stones laid on the roof
  40. 40. The structure contains two storey with two houses side by side. Top level are the living areas and kitchen. The lowest area is used as the gaushala.
  41. 41. A Timeless way of building?
  42. 42. No external help required Locals can construct their own houses. Time and resource efficiency Wood and Stone are used as an alternative against slow setting mortar. All materials are available in the vicinity of the village Low maintenance Requires very low effort to maintain and repair Structural resilience Non rigid construction helps to dissipate the stresses developed in the earthquake.
  43. 43. Resource re-use There is hardly any wastage and since materials don’t deteriorate for a long time and can be reused. Bio degradable materials No synthetic materials are used or fixating materials like mortar are used. Very limited use of metal is seen. Built form and climate Infill traps air within the walls creating an insulation zone.
  44. 44. Energy efficient configuration and elements Cuboidal stacking along contours, fetching maximum sunlight. Slope of the roof allows snow to fall off whereas the flatter part holds some snow which acts as an insulation layer Cattle are kept at the ground floor which keeps the upper floors warm
  45. 45. Related building practices Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Sikkim, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany, France,
  46. 46. Map of the silk route The Silk Road is a historically important international trade route between China and the Mediterranean The present day Hindustan-Tibet road that passes through Himachal Pradesh follows an old trade route that branched from the famous Silk route into India. Source: http://virtuallabs.stanford.edu/silkroad/SilkRoad.html .
  47. 47. Source: http://mongolschinaandthesilkroad.blogspot.in/2013/07/xinhua-launches-campaign-to-protect.html http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Shiny-History-of-Silk Map of the silk route As people and goods moved across the routes, knowledge about building techniques probably moved with them, which helps the many related building techniques found throughout this landscape. Kath-khuni construction technique is complementary to many other techniques that are found throughout the Himalayan settlement.
  48. 48. Source: http://www.boloji.com/index.cfm?md=Content&sd=Articles&ArticleID=10561 Taq construction in Kashmir The typical ladder bands of timber runners and crosspieces embedded in masonry walls in traditional taq construction at floor level and at the window lintel levels.
  49. 49. Bhatar construction in Pakistan Bhatar is a pashtoo word for beam. Wood is the main structural member and the crosspieces tying the parallel wooden beams shows the characteristic bhatar construction. Source: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/Pakistan/General_Tips-Pakistan-Northern_Areas-BR-1.html One of the most impressive structures using Bhatar construction is the Baltit fort in Hunza valley dating back some 800 years ago.
  50. 50. Koti-banal, row houses in Kumaon People of the same caste or family come to live together and form linear settlements made out of wood and stone, plastered with mud and slate roof on top. This is a very common typology of building.
  51. 51. Bracing boards Posts Stone filling Timber braced style in Sainj, Shimla Dhajji-dewari model with diagonal bracing Dhajji-dewari tackles shear forces due to their tensile nature as well as the way the bracing pattern is made.
  52. 52. ‘Himis’ construction system in Turkey: A house in Safranbolu, The silk route passed through this region which may explain diffusion of ideas from distant regions in many local architectural traditions along the trade route.
  53. 53. Source: http://www.efenditravel.com/Safranbolu-Highlights-of-Turkey-Tour--13-days-efendimenu6876435897436-tid110 Settlement in Safranbolu, Turkey In traditional construction of Turkish houses the space of wall framing was filled with various materials which was obtained from at the region. Especially brick, stone, abode and timber were preferred material for the infill.
  54. 54. Source: http://www.beenthere-donethat.org.uk/herefordshire/black-white.html http://blog.willamette.edu/worldnews/2013/10/27/the-role-of-art-and-art-history/ http://frenchholidaychateau.com/guide_to_normandy.html ‘Half timbered’ in Britain, ‘Fachwerk’ in Germany and ‘Columbage’ in France There are many variations of this construction technique in different parts of the world with regional differences in rationale for it adaptation and the way it is constructed.
  55. 55. Traditional knowledge and skills Sometimes similarities arise due to shared histories and at other time they arise as pragmatic responses to similar needs even if societies may be separated in terms of time, space and technologies.
  56. 56. Prepared by Mansi Shah Senior Researcher DICRC With Jay Thakkar Head of Research DICRC For more information refer: Prathaa: Kath-khuni architecture of Himachal Pradesh