Moravian Church Leh
The Moravian Church in India is the product of a small group sent from the European church and has had a permanent presence in Ladakh for the last 130 years. Their ministry includes several schools and children's homes and a coffee house. The original church building dates back to over 100 years ago, and the project site occupies a prominent position within the community.
The half acre site was divided in two parts - the existing church and parsonage on the east and many smaller old and dilapidated buildings on the west. The EMI team was invited to design a new church building in the same campus, to accommodate the growing congregation. The location was chosen near the road, on the west. The old dilapidated buildings were brought down and the new building was constructed there.
Traditional Ladakhi building styles in this region incorporate thick stone and mud block walls, closely spaced timber columns, and a multi-layered wood and clay system called “Toksa” for floors and roofs. These buildings are warm during the long winter, and, due to good construction practices and the dry climate, last for centuries. During the design, there were different opinions for the style of construction for the new building. A traditional building would be warm, and resemble other historic buildings in Leh, but would have low ceiling heights and tight column spacing that would restrict the church’s ability to utilize the space for large gatherings. A modern concrete frame would allow for better use of a larger floor space with taller ceilings, but would not be appropriate for the cold winters. And, unless careful attention was paid to the detailing of the concrete reinforcing steel, the building would be at risk during earthquakes. EMI proposed the incorporation of elements of both building styles into one building, a kind of hybrid that meets both sets of goals. The design finalized for construction has a reinforced concrete structure to provide larger column spacing, while the exterior walls and ceiling are a combination of stone and mud blocks and the “Toksa” roof, which provides excellent insulation through the cold winter.