PERMA KARPO LIBRARY: Good Green Design in the Himalayas

by , 06/03/08

arup, perma karpo library, druk white lotus school, solar panels, innovative technologies, pro bono work, social responsibility, indian school, examples of good design

Green design is good design – or so we like to say here at Inhabitat – and it is always great to see a beautifully executed example that encompasses this philosophy. The Perma Karpo Library, designed by Arup for a small village in Ladahk (in the Indian Himalayas), is the perfect example of how good design, science and local knowledge have worked together to create a building that is as sustainable as it is beautiful.

arup, perma karpo library, druk white lotus school, solar panels, innovative technologies, pro bono work, social responsibility, indian school, examples of good design, arup4.jpg

The Perma Karpo Library is part of the Druk White Lotus School, which is located in the Indian Himalayas. This project was initiated by Arup as part of their pro bono work. Arup became interested in the project when they saw the potential to influence the development of remote regions in the Himalaya. At Arup, every year an associate is given leave of absence to go and supervise the project on the site. At the same time, a team is in charge of delivering solutions that can be applied on site.

Amongst the technologies and design solutions used on site: ventilated Trombe Walls, wool insulation, a mud roof, timber paneling and even solar panels on the roof. The materials are locally sourced, and the experience and design solutions are worked out with the people on site to ensure that the knowledge remains in place. The library is part of a larger development which will be finished at around 2010.

“Design needs to celebrate a unique society, not be a consequence of a default, predetermined signature style,” said Arup Associate Declan O’Carrol.

+ Arup-designed library for north Indian school takes centre stage
+ Druk While Lotus School

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  1. satoro June 4, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    the Pema Karpo Library is a wonderful achievement !!
    I’d love to see it under moonlight , with and without lighting inside the building…
    Any hope?

    keep up the flow (*!*)



  2. Scott June 4, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    yea where are the books? and doesnt it get cold there? the middle reminds me of a martial arts movie (if you add a bunch of people doing katas or something).

    A little criticism on the architecture posts on this site. we need more information that we tend to get to understand the building. i understand if this site prefers to just report and let the readers to the research, but if more research went into the posts it would be more useful i think.

    Thanks :)

  3. novaeangliae June 4, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Functionally it looks like more than just a library. More than half of the top tier is enclosed against the elements when you un-explode the diagram and presumably (judging by the positioning of the solar panels) all of those windows will be oriented towards the sun in winter to aid with passive solar heating. This would be where books are stored and the building is used in the cold months.

    The remaining open deck of the top tier looks to function as ‘stalls’ for an arena on the ground floor. In the bottom left of the photo you can just make out wooden steps seating built into the mezzanine, also the steps around the inner circle on the ground level serve as seating directed toward the ‘stage’ under the middle of the enclosed area.

    Therefore the school can also use the library as an open-air cultural center in the warmer months (where temperatures apparently get well into the 20s degrees C) to have plays, concerts, assemblies or just for kids to sit outside and read, shaded from the glare of the sun at high altitude.

    So while it may be called a library in English, it’s more likely to be in practice a multi-role building, adding to its green credentials and the real beauty in the sensibility and simplicity of its design, I reckon.

  4. hmmarquard June 4, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Hmmm….wonder what’s up with all the open space? Not that I am against open space but when I see a building called a library showing not much more than a circular open courtyard (no seating) and a second level completely open to the elements (also no seating) it makes me wonder where in the heck the functional space is? And why there is so much un-functional space in a green design? Especially when open-air mezzanines are located in the Himalayas (don’t they still get snow???)

  5. nuevefiveoh June 3, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    The Druk Lotus White School was also part of the second season of Design e2. The episode talked about how sustainability is very important in their area because of limited resources and proximity to the Himalayas. The video is available on iTunes (iTunes link).

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