he State of Jammu and Kashmir in Northern India, which is known for its breathtaking landscape is famous for Gulmarg valley that offers some of the best ski terrains in the world. Indian government proposed a modern institute for skiing and mountaineering to boost tourism in the area. The project was started in the 1980s and was shelved in the middle of the construction due to unrest in the area.
At the beginning of 2004,the project was revived. Opening doors of Gulmarg to world tourism once again was an important move for the state from a socioeconomic standpoint. However, much had changed in the past two decades and required a hard response from architecture.
Though the revival brought hope to the region for bringing in prosperity, the project itself was a challenge for several reasons:
The structure has heavily deteriorated due to exposure to adverse weather conditions, specifically the snowy weather.
The planning was done keeping in mind old techniques while technology has completely changed like heating equipment and the new trends in the ski gear.
The social environment, expectations, and culture of the tourists and the community had also changed drastically, which required changes in planning and functionality.
The first step was to conduct studies for structure and create a strategy for how the spaces can be housed within the envelope to respond to new culture. After 25 years, a bare structure was to be retrofitted in that manner to allow for functional changes in the building.
To create functional adaptation
To amalgamate the new structural requirement
Surgically make changes to integrate new systems
Recreate skyline into a more iconic one.
Incorporate with traditional elements.
Concept stipulated design objectives like
All the above exemplified the importance of the project in that region. Subsequently, a master plan was developed. Using the design inten t, reputed institutes were sought for ensuring structural safety and helping the team to understand what kind of alterations were possible.
Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering was to be the new face of Jammu and Kashmir’s institutional standard. It brings back the charm of Kashmir to the world and to Indian people who had fond memories of Kashmir of the 1980s. Therefore, the design needed to respond to this emotional need.
IISM’s new design had common areas in the center, lobby, training classrooms, ski shop, lounge, and common rooms. Wings on the upper level housed boarding facilities of multiple configurations, twin share, triple share, etc. Dining facilities occupy the entire level and were linked to the backend service areas. Building planning principles were derived as a combination from those of a hotel and an institute. Comfort for users, picturesque views of the valley and the perfect marriage between building architecture and landscape were the key considerations to revive the charm of natural ski slopes and sports spirit of mountaineering.
The new design offered a new skyline, creating new levels and readjusting some slabs. New riser spaces and service floors were also required. The project saw some of the natural integration of design and nature with the long roofs standing out and merging into the landscape of cascading hills. The finishing and color scheme also resemble the old hutments. Lots of old traditional work was done in the interiors so as to give a sense of exploration when someone steps inside.
Central heating system with double glass windows not only offers comfort but also helps with energy efficiency by not losing heat. Also, in the summers as the rooms were facing the diagonal axis, they receive the maximum heat from the sun. The walls are also made hollow to ensure energy efficiency.
Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering is an excellent example of space utilization and pre-planning. On the exterior, material and color harmonized together local landscape and looked like a part of the whole. Interiors were designed using fine traditional detailing from local culture. Ergonomic furniture from global standards, toilet facilities, central heating with individual controls, warm soothing lighting, etc., provided for comfortable indoor space quality.
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