Parag Anand, Aditi Singh & Robert Eales

Scores of triumphant para-gliders, having just landed, make a spirited dash up narrow pathways flanked by exquisitely carved vernacular houses. A group of very amiable Buddhist monks on their way back to their monasteries make way for this exuberant bunch while the stoic Indian village lady, bent in double with the fodder on her back, resigned to her daily grind, patiently waits for her turn.

For the casual onlooker, this makes for a very curious picture. But this is everyday life in Bir, a picturesque hamlet in the Himalayas in India, a noted center for ecotourism, spiritual studies and meditation.

Many worlds meet here, and perpetuated by necessity develop complex inter-linkages. For the locals though, living in the pristine beauty of the Himalayas does not come without a cost. The perils of living in remote, inaccessible areas with ecosystems that are increasingly becoming imbalanced, range from lifestyle induced hazards to those contrived by extreme climatic and vegetation pattern deviations.

Bringing together the learning from the Himalayan Ecology Project at the SPA, New Delhi and the resources extended by the Deer Park Institute ( for engaging local communities, this studio will aim to harness technological advancements to address pivotal grass-root issues.

Economic growth, mobile connectivity and an ambitious government mandate to make the region Wi-Fi all extend a great opportunity to move beyond traditional systems and extending the boundaries of design.

The studio will create products, services and systems which are simple to use and still may integrate the use of hi-technology like the Arduino module, open source technologies, tapping of natural resources abundantly available to address issues in the Himalayan Region, without interfering with the prevalent lifestyle and ecological systems. Traditional systems of knowledge will also be revived and propagated by appropriate interventions. The project will leap frog to apply technologies that minimise environmental impact and contribute to sustainable development.

These interventions will aim at creating pilot projects and model practices that can be shared across Himalayas with the help of the Deer Park network.

Image: Design students from School of Planning and Architecture (New Delhi) with tutors Parag and Aditi outside the Deer Park Institute.

In this issue portfolio you can see projects done by design students on the themes of Energy, Water, Waste Disposal, Livelihoods, Material & Construction, Kitchen & Cooking, Art & Crafts, & Land-use.

Click here to see report of Himalayan Ecology Project