Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Alleya and Associates wins the HUDCO Design Awards 2017 for the Kaule Prototype

The Kaule Prototype has bagged the First Prize in the HUDCO Design Awards 2017 for Disaster Resistant Self-Help Housing.

Congratulations to the core team - Areen Attari, Manu Narendran, Santaman Tamang, Minesh Ratna Tamrakar, and Bipin Gautam - and a big 'thank you' to all those who helped and participated from India and Nepal.


Link to announcement:



Monday, April 3, 2017

The Kaule Prototype is approved by the Government of Nepal - April 4, 2017


The Kaule Prototype design has been approved by the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Government of Nepal (DUDBC), and published in their Earthquake Resistant Design Catalogue Volume 2. Thank you to all who contributed and kept the faith. The design catalogue can be downloaded from this link here: 


Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Kaule Prototype is ready!  -  12 April 2016


The Prototype has been designed to fit into the the local landscape of rural Nepal


The prototype is ready, barring minor touch-ups, and the drawings for the Kaule Prototype have been submitted to the DUDBC (Department of Urban Development and Building Construction), Govt.of Nepal for inclusion in their Design Catalogue Vol-2.

On my last trip to Kaule, from April 5 to April 12, the scene was jubilant and poignant both. It has been a long journey - trying to convince the authorities that there indeed are solutions for re-constructing Nepal that would not necessarily be dependent of Reinforced Cement Concrete and devoid of the local culture, aesthetics and traditional skills. 

Designed to fit into the rural landscape of Nepal and built entirely by the village community using stone, bamboo, and mud under our training and supervision, The Kaule Prototype uses strengthened stonework for the lower and lightweight bamboo construction for the upper floor for seismic resilience. The design of the prototype house has been submitted to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Govt. of Nepal, for its inclusion in their catalogue of Govt. approved designs for rural areas.  


This is what we observed on our numerous recce trips - the upper portions of most houses, built in stone, came crumbling down over its sleeping residents.

We strengthened the stone walls with corner and through stones, as well as horizontal timber bands, and restricted them to the ground floor only
A bamboo frame on the inside of the stone wall was added, along with multiple bamboo beams for supporting the floor...

....and bamboo posts extending to the first floor to bamboo trusses for supporting the lightweight roof above

A traditional verandah was added in front using timber posts and traditional carved brackets

Constructed entirely by the village community using local tools...

.... and an all pervading tradition of bright, joyous colours...

....with the aim to keep local traditions in continuum and aesthetics intact
Each memory preserved, every moment cherished... Thank you people of Kaule and Bhangeri for sharing with us your unlimited capacity to smile in the face of uncertainty and adversity, along with some of the world's best 'Dahi' and... well, 'Rakhsi'... Will surely be back!

Friday, March 11, 2016

An idea is taking shape  -  12 March 2016



Ten months and and seven visits later, the germ of an idea that started in May 2015 - soon after the earthquakes struck - is taking shape on ground. Constructed almost entirely by the villagers themselves except for constant supervision guidance by our architects, the prototype is seeing the light of day in the manner it has been visualised.

Local in flavour but strong to deal with earthquakes.

My recent trip to Kathmandu - from where I returned yesterday - was undertaken to respond to a request from the DUDBC (Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Nepal) for structural calculations for our design. With help from my friend Sanjay Thapa, an architect practicing in Nepal, we had the good fortune of meeting Dr. P. N. Maskey, Professor of Civil Engineering at the Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Dr. Maskey has agreed to guide us to help provide the structural calculations and information required by the DUDBC for including our design as a part of a set of designs recommended by them to the people of Nepal. 

Owning to the unconventional material we are using in the design, it is a difficult task, but we are confident the process embarked upon yesterday will yield results and our design will soon feature in the DUDBC Design Catalogue Volume II.

Here are a few photographs of the idea and some from the site as of today:


The re-constructed house as designed


The stone work is complete and the bamboo posts have been fixed inside the room. The verandah frame is also done

The door leading to the kitchen to the East

The bamboo post and ties inside the room

Bhuval, the master carpenter from the village, shaped this wonderful 'lotus' knob to finish the top of an attic timber post

Local bamboo under test - 195 kilograms and ready for more!

The posts and ties ate tied together using 'fita' a cotton-nylon tape that is strong and resists stretching. This joint will now be wrapped around with more of the same.

The window frames for the upper floor is ready - along with 'lakhashi' - the corner bead that hides the joint between the frame and the mud mortar that is to come later

On the Rakhshi front there is no news, as the donors have withdrawn support for any drink other than water for the workers at site. The con side of this is the productivity at the construction site has reduced to half, and absenteeism among workers has doubled :-)

More later!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Prototype construction started at site  -  19 Jan 2016.



After another round of presentation of the design at the the Technical Committee Meeting of the DUDBC, chaired by Shri Rabi Shah ji, Sharan and Areen visited Kaule and initiated the construction with people trained from the village earlier.


Here is a report:


Under a pleasant, cool afternoon sun, the marking for a new foundation is under progress where a building once stood before the earthquakes. 70% of the original foundation was found to be alright and has been re-used.

The west-side foundation was damaged during the earthquakes and needed to be repaired.

 Gabion retaining walls made re-using stones from demolished buildings.

On another part of the construction site, PCC blocks are being cast as substitute for 'through stones' - stones that straddle the width of the wall at regular intervals providing additional bonding and, as a result, strength. Big stones are not available in this part of Nepal naturally.
Bamboo treated by the the villagers on their own after having received training provided by us - is free of insects and dry. When Areen and Bhuval tried to extract one bamboo from the stack for testing, the whole lot came down upon their heads, giving both of them lumps, and reminding us to re-stock the first-aid kit at site. Could have been worse!
The head lumps notwithstanding - bamboos are being neatly stacked and sorted by Rohit, Bhuval, and Areen.

More bamboo has been treated and stacked against the school building to dry. Dipped for 3 weeks in the newly made 'pucca' treatment pit (pix below), this lot was treated entirely by the now-trained work force from the village.

New, permanent bamboo treatment pit.

25 feet tall bamboo growing on Santaman's land 100 metres below the village.

Timber has arrived from the saw mill in Trishuli - 30 km from Satbise at the base of Kaule hill. Everyone is excited, especially our carpenters - Rohit, Resham, Sudershan, Bhuval, Ganesh and Ayteh.

A site table for ourselves with the stacked timber, without using any tools!

Who needs a computer?

Computer or no, even site tables get hacked by sophisticated, metallic edge handlers. Suder (shan), the master carpenter in action with a hand made axe that has been sharpened enough for a shave - demonstrated by Rohit for us.
The timber is being prepared, jointed and readied for use as plinth bands in stone masonry.

The plinth band is almost ready off-site.

Two coats of Terminator is applied for termite proofing.

Computer drawings are modified for site conditions...

.... and supplemented with site sketches.

....local designs are adapted for doors and windows...

....and for traditional details like timber brackets - that cannot, and need not, be bettered...

....only admired...

like this one here.

Or this...!!! roadside Calatrava - always believed the (our) profession of architecture was more common sense and not a necessity. Enjoyed the cantilevers.

That brings us back to Rakshi. The diagramme illustrates how rakshi is made. An earhten pot (now-a-days made of aluminum) contains millet that has been mixed with a special local herb (probably a form of yeast) in water and fermented for 3 weeks in an airtight container. The fire is lit below the pot helping the alcohol to evaporate. The mouth of the pot is lidded with a conical vessel made of brass that is filled with water. This causes millet vapour condenses on reaching the cone and drips below into another, smaller, brass vessel kept inside the earthen pot. The water in the conical vessel outside the pot is replaced with cold water when it becomes hot. This process is repeated thrice, and the rakshi that has collected inside the smaller container inside is considered to be the best. More cycles of water replacement outside increase the quantity of rakshi collected but reduces its 'rarity'

Millet seeds

Evening after work - freshly made rakshi with crisp, stir fried home grown soya beans and onions.

Cheers!! Areen and Me and the prototype site above, behind us. Manu joins us for three weeks starting 8th Feb after Areen's stint is over - for now.