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SUMMER SCHOOL 2023 - Architecture, Material Cultures and Anthropologies of Ladakh

17 to 30th June, Palay House, Phey, Ladakh

Apply Here

31st May 2023


Sheikh Intekhab Alam, Akanksha Maglani, Sarover Zaidi and Abeer Gupta

About the Summer School

This Summer School is hosted by Alchi Association India in collaboration with Emara Architecture & Urbanism hosted at Palay House. The 15-day summer school will offer in-depth insight and work experience about the built environments and vernacular architectures, material and making techniques used in Ladakh, understanding the relationship with the social through ethnographic research studies in the field site, and work with local architects and crafts people across two ongoing, onsite projects.


The Summer school will be conducted across two main modules: Material exploration and Material & making.

Material Exploration will introduce students to experiential and ethnographic frameworks for engaging with materials and materiality. In this module, students will actively work on-site to decode and document material networks and relationships across various aspects of social, cultural, religious, historical, and everyday life. They will be introduced to sociological and ethnographic methodologies that enable the study of spatial and sacred landscapes within the region. 

The Material and Making module will focus on introducing students to local practices, both architectural and symbolic, specific to the region. This module will delve deeply into the environmental and cultural foundations of materiality, as well as the tools and techniques employed in the region.

Both modules will offer exposure to social and cultural narratives, myths, and folklore, studied through the lens of material culture, sacred architecture, and community structures. Students will critically engage with the community and the region, exploring the intricate layers and connections that emerge across the two modules.


17-21 June: Material and built environment exploration through the understanding of Leh old town.


23-26 June: Practice based work/ Field work: Building techniques and traditional knowledge of the built environment, undertaking ethnographies in rural settings and material deconstruction study.


27-28 June: (Towards deliverables) Architectural representations and building documentation, presentation of material culture studies and ethnographies.


29-30 June: Public Exhibition and interaction of all the work undertaken.

Who can apply

Students of Architecture, Design, Social Sciences-Humanities, Museum and Engineering professionals within an age range of 18 to 27 years will be preferred. 


After registering at the given link, participants will be sent further details to arrange their travel and accommodation as well a consent form, they will need to sign.

Workshop Certificate

A certificate of participation will be issued jointly by Emara and Achi Association India at the end of the Summer School.

Workshop Contribution

The donation for the Summer School is 40000 INR to cover costs for organising the school and the costs incurred by the resource persons. This fee does not include the participant’s travel and accommodation costs.

About the Hosts

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EMARA Architecture and Urbanism is a studio based in Leh and Delhi, the firm has undertaken various Architecture and community projects, they have also done various workshops with Architecture and Urban Studies Students. In Ladakh EMARA has been involved in many commercial and public projects. 

Their work can be seen at

Palay House 

A makerspace and research centre of Himalayan material culture. The Cultural space aims to be a pioneering influence on the process of urban development and living in a fragile ecosystem, by generating circular economies and fostering practices deeply rooted in the region’s cultural heritage. Projects have been envisioned across themes such as Urban Development, Material Culture and Human Ecology, drawing professionals and students from disciplines including Conservation, Art, Architecture and Design into a range of projects. The projects are rooted in vernacular materials and skills and hope to create links between historical and contemporary practices, processes, and mediums. The projects will engage with research and documentation but work towards creating critical thinking and sustainable entrepreneurship. Palay House is a project of Achi Association India (AAI) was established in 2010 as a not-for- profit, Section-25 company based in New Delhi. Its aim is to contribute to, and safeguard the outstanding but endangered cultural heritage in the Himalayas. It was founded by people dedicated to the preservation of heritage and scholars specialising in the art, architecture and culture of the region.

Read more :

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The initiative is supported by Artshila: An Initiative of Takshila Educational Society - an immersive platform for creating and sharing ideas centered around the arts with spaces designed to facilitate artistic expression and curate creative experiences. Our focus is on architecture, cinema, design, literature, performing arts & visual arts across four unique locations—Ahmedabad, Santiniketan, Patna & New Delhi. The Arthshila centers offer regular quality curation of performances, seminars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, and interactions that seek to inspire curious minds and offer a pan-India network for exhibition.


Shiekh Intekhab Alam is an Architect and Urban Regeneration specialist, besides running his practice, EMARA, he has extensively worked in Ladakh for about 10 years. His work includes working on the built environment, and material cultures of Ladakh, through landscape, planning and architectural projects. He over the years has run many student research studios in Ladakh. Intekhab has conducted various workshops with students of Architecture across the country. He has also been engaged in designing and conservation of large and small Architecture projects, where he worked closely with local artisans, craftsmen, and community leaders.


Akanksha Maglani is an Architect and Interior Architect by education and a practicing museum professional. Her research and practice lie at the intersection of the evolution and experience of the museum as an institution, and its purpose in a cross-cultural frame. She is a post graduate from CEPT University, Ahmedabad, with an International Masters in Interior Architecture and Design. As part of the program, she studied at The Istanbul Technical University and worked on a variety of interior architecture projects that were rooted in Turkey’s history and culture. In her academic research, she has investigated the evolution of museums as an institution and its role in post-Independence India along with case studies analysing visual representation techniques and tools in contemporary museum design practices. She has worked extensively with museums across India, including the National Museum of India in Delhi, the Mehrangarh Museum in Jodhpur, City Palace museum in Udaipur, Indian Music Experience in Bengaluru, as well as Museum of Art and Photography, among others. Her work spans from exhibition design and research to community outreach and strategic development. She is currently conducting India’s first audience research for an upcoming museum in Bengaluru and developing curatorial methodologies for museums that are community-centered. She is currently curious and researching about museums and climate change, empathy in design and social sustainability.. Her teaching heavily borrows from her work and focuses on visual narratives, representation techniques and methodologies within the ever evolving design ecosystem. She teaches courses on design research, designing through narratives and exhibition and museum design. 


Sarover Zaidi is a philosopher and a social anthropologist. She works at the intersections of critical theory, anthropology, art, architecture, and material culture studies. She has extensively worked on religious architecture and urbanism in the city of Bombay, and currently co-runs a site on writing the city called Chiragh Dilli. Previously, she has worked on rural development, with a focus on health, education, and women’s rights across India, and she currently works on religious iconography and modernist architecture in South Asia. She has received the Max Planck fellowship, the INTACH fellowship, the IFA fellowship and the Khoj fellowship for her research interests. Further, she also curates an interdisciplinary forum on art, architecture, and anthropology called ‘Elementary Forms.’ Having previously taught at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, Zaidi currently teaches at the Jindal School of Art and Architecture, Sonipat, India


Abeer Gupta joined the Achi Association as Director in 2014. His research is based in the western Himalayas, in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, around oral histories, material cultures, and visual archives focusing on ideas of cultural construction, hybridity and commodification. His publications include, The Visual and Material Culture of Islam in Ladakh, in Visual Pilgrim, Mapping Popular Visuality and Devotional Media at Sufi Shrines and Other Islamic Institutions in South Asia, (2014), Discovering the Self and Others in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in Sarit K Chaudhuri & Sucheta Sen Chaudhuri, eds, Fieldwork in South Asia - Memories, Moments, and Experiences, (Sage, 2014), and A Sense of Place—Islam in the Western Himalaya, in The Draw of the Hills, Latika Gupta, ed (Marg: Volume 69 Number 4, 2018).

Abeer is an alumnus of the National Institute of Design, India and Goldsmiths College, University of London and taught full-time at Ambedkar University Delhi between 2014-18. He has directed several documentary films and curated art, education and community media projects. He has participated in several group shows, such as Project Cinema Cinema City (2012), Fibre Fables (New Delhi, 2015) and Witness to Paradise, (Singapore Biennale 2016) and curated, Atoot dor: Unbroken Thread: The Banarasi Brocade Sari at Home and in the World (National Museum, New Delhi 2016), and Old Routes, New Journeys II (Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal 2017).

31st May 2023

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