Cryic Transformations


Emergent Resource Management Strategies for High Altitude Cold Desert Biomes


Aditya Tognatta (M.Arch. with Distinction)

Kaushik Sardesai (M.Arch. with Distinction)

2015 – 16


“Cryic Transformations” is an investigation based on structuring and managing naturally available resources in a cold desert biome as an emergent method of co-existing with micro-climatic transi­tions. The work focuses on the high-altitude regions of Northern Himalayas; an ecologically sensitive environment prone to incremental climatic change and demographic shifts. Over the past few decades, extreme changes in topography have given rise to multitudinous linear valley settlements, that lack modern technological advancements and are primarily dependent on agricultural and natural water resources for their survival. With a specific focus on the seclusion from urban centres and its current evolution as a tourist magnet, this research takes into consideration the rural lifestyle of the inhab­itants with the aim of harnessing naturally available commodities that can restore the symmetry in consumption and production.

The project is contextualized in the Leh valley of North India, where accumulative mass flows are rampant and initiate a series of environmental challenges to the rural communities. Mass flows are a resultant of heavy sedimentation, flash floods and glacial lake overflows accelerated by frequent cloudbursts and landslides. This is an immutable process predominant in cold and dry regions prone to heavy precip­itation and snowfall. Transportation of material resources to sustain these changes are sporadic and rely entirely on seasonal climatic variations, leading to frequent logistic issues. Furthermore, the recent shift in occupational patterns from agrarian to tourism and stagnancy in construction styles fails to cope with these land alterations. On-site investigations of the social patterns and visual experiences of climatic changes form the primary basis of developing strategies to gain maximum control over the landscape.