Gangtsoskhang, Ladakh, by Emara


Note: The contents below are published as provided by the architect/designer.

Gangtsoskhang, Ladakh is an Integrated Model Facility for the care of the elderly, designed by Emara

In 2010 Ladakh witnessed a severe disaster in the form of a Cloud Burst and subsequent floods. Help Age India, a leading NGO based in Delhi, came to the rescue of the disadvantaged elderly citizens in and around the region- the volunteers moved in swiftly and provided relief to the local population and helped in the reclamation of land lost to the flood in the Shey Village of Ladakh. As a sign of gratitude and a token of appreciation, the Shey Village Panchayat gifted 20.12 Kanal land (~ 2.5 Acres) to HelpAge India for the Development of an integrated model facility for the care of the elderly in the region.  The Foundation Stone was laid by H.H. Dalai Lama in July 2017, Construction at the site began in August 2018.

The brief

The brief was designed keeping in mind the vulnerability of the place as well the comfort of the people, especially during winter. To provide them with emotional and physical well-being- facilities like cattle rearing, kitchen gardening etc. have been integrated within the site. The site consists of double unit and dormitory rooms with facilities of a Common Room, Dining area, Recreational Room, Prayer Room, administration block, open-air theatre etc. in the first phase and in the second phase additional blocks of dormitory and double unit plans are proposed.

The intent was to set up a community village for destitute elderly with Shelter Services – Modular, comprehensive & elder-friendly, The project was also envisaged as Wellness, Geriatric health care centre and daycare centre for the elderly with allied services. The project is envisaged in two phases, the first phase of the project is complete and it can accommodate up to 60 residents, and the second phase will have 30 more residents.

Site Planning

Raw, rustic and resilient, the landscape of Leh exudes all of this and more. Developing the master plan of the Old Age Home at Shey, it was realised that it should be planned with a lot of ease and should have a sense of self-sufficiency. To manifest the master plan’s ideals, landscape as a tool was sought to create an environment that fights off the bitterness of the cold with soft, soothing and vibrant foliage which is easy on the eyes, winter or summer. Keeping in mind the universal accessibility, the buildings are placed such that they resemble the traditional settlement. Eye on the inhabitants, no negative areas inside the complex- the complex is also designed as the last resort for the old people, so to make sure that they can indulge in all the different kinds of activities within the compound.


The following design features are kept into consideration while developing the site

  • Minimum use of steps at the site for universal accessibility for the elderly as well as the staff, further the locally available yamang is used for pavement for easy mobility within the site.
  • Buildings are placed to face the south to gain maximum sunlight.
  • The unique design of ‘rammed earth’ mixed with concrete balancing strength with insulation keeping in mind the low temperature & harsh winters. All the buildings in the complex are made using this very material.
  • Insulated walls covering the water tank, layered inside with local dry grass for heat-trapping to prevent ice formation, the span of the buildings was designed taking into consideration the talu dumma way of making the roof.
  • Use of Yamang (traditional stone material) for paving, Local traditional “Shing Tsang” – carved & ornate overhanging eaves / “Chajja” depicting rich local artistry & culture
  • Solarised walls, especially for bathrooms (“Tombe” walls), which have specially insulated & south-facing walls for sunshine which prevents the freezing of water from the tank to the pipe outlet.
Gangtsoskhang, Ladakh, by Emara 5

Project Facts

Architect: Shiekh Intekhab Alam
Landscape Architect: Amrita Kaur Slatch
Structure: Nazir Din
Site Engineer: Norbu
Contractor: Sonam Tundup, Sunny
Stone Masonry: Mama
Carpenter: Surinder Kumar
Plumbing: Guna
Electrical: Shatrudhan Singh
Total Built up area: 7271 Sq. Ft (phase I)



Gangtsoskhang, Ladakh, by Emara 13

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