Sagarmatha Next is located on the trekking trails in Syangboche, near to Namche Bazaar. The overall site is spread across 1850 square meters of area, and the centre is composed of four buildings – house, learning centre, workshop & shop, café & gallery – and a landscape that blends with the surrounding nature.
Anne Feenstra and Sustainable Mountain Architecture (SMA), a pro-people, pro-ecology, and pro-local team of architects with extensive experience working with salvaged material, came up with the design. Taking the movement through the open landscape as a starting point, and the urgent need for a conscious demonstration of the upcycling of waste, the creation of art and architecture from waste form an exquisite balance with the surrounding ecosystem and its rich and vulnerable biodiversity. Born from sun, landscape, and wind consideration, each building receives the needed natural lighting during the day. The landscape has welcoming walls, blending with the surrounding, and making it fauna friendly.
The construction of the centre has solely used locally sourced materials such as steel profile, pinewood, plyboard, gneiss, and granite. Besides, in alignment with Sagarmatha Next purpose, mountaineering waste as ropes and clothes, waste oxygen cylinders, tent, and carabiners were collected and upcycled into artworks and building materials for the centre.
The high altitude of the site – 3840 meters from sea level – and the extreme climate conditions impeded the completion of the work on an ongoing basis. The construction of the site was divided into 4 phases – from September 2017 to November 2020, with a stop during each winter season. The local firm Khumbila Construction, with more than 20 years of experience in various kinds of construction projects in the Khumbu region, allocated a total of 50 local workers for the construction of the centre.
Setting out different building components
During the first phase, from September to December 2017, the work was focused on setting out different building components of ground, removing of trees and grass, moving and grading of earth, chipping of stones, paving two routes for the entrance, disruption of grazing field animals, and setting up of the labour camp.
Building the walls
The second phase took place from April to November 2018, and the work included building the walls, installing electrical connection, construction of soak pit and septic tank, and leveling the site.
Roofing and flooring
Roof and flooring, the interior of the buildings, wastewater, and supply line works were completed in the third phase, from March to October 2019.
The fourth phase, which includes the final landscaping, interior works and finishing, was started in March 2020 but has been put on hold due to the pandemic. These works will be completed in the last quarter of this year.
Testimony by Anne Fenstra
“Each building embraces the natural setting of the open juniper-rhododendron landscape. During the construction, the topsoil was locally conserved and placed back around the buildings.
Every window is uniquely designed to let the low-angled morning sun come in. Chamfered walls allow this passive solar heating process to happen even more efficiently. During the day and in the afternoon, sufficient natural light flows into the spaces. Double glazing, thermal roof insulation and thick stone walls ensure the warmth stays inside.
The curved aerodynamics shapes of the workshop and the interpretation center handle the high wind speeds with ease.
All floor levels subtly follow the original natural contours of the terrain, with the stepped Film Salon being the most visible example of designing in a mountain environment.
The intricate structural framework of horizontal tie beams and vertical micro-concreting makes all buildings earthquake resistant, a must in the young Himalayas as they violently grow higher every year.
Local pine timber and local granite stone, sometimes with tinges of mica and quartz, are used for the walls. Yellow deep soil from the site was mixed with yak, cow dung, eggshell, and mustard oil to create a fine cement-free mortar. While the double-curved stones of the buttresses are highly sculptured, Yak wool in different colors and patterns are used for the robust curtains in the Shop and the Interpretation Space.
But of utmost importance, the Centre was created with the local community, the Sherpas!”