Climate responsive architecture

EcoDesign is based in Ladakh, the northernmost region in the Jammu & Kashmir State of India. It can be characterized as a 'Trans-Himalayan mountain desert'. The minimum temperature in winter is -20° to -35°C and hardly any rainfall. The average altitude is 11,000 feet (3,500m).

The cold climate of Ladakh generates a high demand for heating. But lack of rainfall makes trees and thus firewood a scarce resource. During the harsh winter the villages are isolated for more than six months; the access passes being closed because of the snow. However, its average of 300 days of sunshine per year makes this region especially suited for solar energy applications.

This environment is not suitable for common architecture methods. EcoDesign has developed a construction method that takes advantage of the solar energy and at the same time it adapts to the geographic and socioeconomic conditions. EcoDesign buildings are designed to absorb heat from the sun and to store it within the building for as long as possible. This method is called 'passive solar design' as opposed to active designs which use circulating water pipes, air blowers, or other moving parts that can break or wear out. Over the years our method has indeed proved very effective and can be replicated in similar areas.