‘Sagarmatha Next’ is an innovation hub located in Sagarmatha National Park, home to the tallest mountain in the world, which strives to promote sustainability in the region. Our goal is to be a driver for sustainable tourism by getting local communities and organizations to participate and follow environment-friendly practices.
To be true to our cause, we incorporated sustainable construction methods to build the physical infrastructure at Sagarmatha Next. Therefore, the five buildings and the outdoor spaces have been built by using environmentally conscious materials available in the locality with sustainable techniques. Stone is the primary material we have used and it is there where stone masonry comes in.
So, let’s explore it!
About Stone Masonry
Stone masonry is a simple yet marvelous technique that involves chipping chunks of stone into carved geometrical shapes to create a built form that protects against harsh weather and outside dangers. Stone masonry is one of the oldest known building techniques developed by early human civilizations. Evidence of this has been found in the three Aran Islands (Ireland), where the ‘Dry Stone Walls’ are standing from prehistoric times. Other famous structures include the Taj Mahal, the Angkor Wat, the Easter Island’s statues, the Great Wall of China, and many more, which stand upright till this date, thereby proving their effectiveness and longevity.
Stone Masonry at Sagarmatha Next
Inspired by this traditional technique, we adopted stone as the main construction material. Granite stones were outsourced from the vicinity areas of the construction site – just about 1 mile away.
Besides, we used mud mortar to create the binding agent for the walls. Mud mortar is a mix of 60% yellow soil (available from the excavation done for the foundation of the buildings), 25% Yak dung, and 15% cow dung (both can be found locally and mixed using water, mustard oil, and eggshells). The main reason behind using this alternative is because the cement industry directly contributes to the release of excess CO2 into the environment.
Using locally sourced stone and mud ensures the minimization of the carbon footprint. Furthermore, it allows us to create employment opportunities and leverage their knowledge of the local masons.
Stone masonry technique step by step
As amazing as this technique sounds (and looks), it involves more effort and is time-consuming. Here’s a look at the steps involved in using stones at Sagarmatha Next.
1st Step – The quarrymen hammer iron rods into rock boulders to break them and create desirable chunks of stone. These 50kgs chunks are carried to the site which is approximately 1.5km away. One worker can make approximately 7-10 trips per day transporting around 500 – 750 kgs of stone to the site.
2nd step – The mason then selects the stones of ideal sizes based on where they will be used. Then, the mason hammers the chunks to create accurate geometrical shapes, by means of a simple manual tool. On average, a mason hits a single stone 83 times per minute continuously for about 1 hour 15 minutes to get it in perfect dimension, that is approximately 6,225 hits just to get a single stone in the desired form.
3rd step – Then the next 15 minutes are spent positioning the stone using small cutouts of stone as spacers and mud mortar to fix the stone permanently. Taking 8 hours of work per day into the calculation, a mason is only able to chip and lay around 5 stones a day.