AMHERST, Mass. – Carey Clouse, assistant professor of architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has received a Fulbright FLEX Award from the Council for International Exchange of Scholars to travel to the Indian Himalayas in 2014 to research and prototype designs for high-altitude agricultural use. Working in the regions of Zanskar and Ladakh, Clouse will focus her work on the development of productive design adaptations for communities responding to the impacts of climate change.
Working with regional agricultural officers and the non-governmental organizations Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) and Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG), Clouse hopes that her project will offer a model for other resource-constrained communities in the broader Himalayas.
The high-Himalayan regions of Zanskar and Ladakh have experienced diminishing glacial meltwater in recent years, leading to chronic drought and substantial hardship for the regions’ subsistence farming communities. Farmers in these two regions have already explored a number of architectural and landscape design plans, which Clouse will research and continue to develop with the intention of creating scalable models for high altitude growers across the Himalayas. Clouse intends for her project to lead to the design, construction and operation of greenhouse technology in Zanskar’s demanding high-altitude environment.
Alongside two American design partners, Clouse has been working in cooperation with constituents from the villages of Kumik and Leh to develop the rapport and regional expertise needed for the project’s success. She expects to now work side-by-side with community members of all ages on the design, construction and implementation of the project’s components.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work on this research in India,” Clouse said of the award. “The collaborative framework and the design-build approach necessitates on-site work in this remote location. I hope this research will offer new insights into high-altitude growing and opportunistic design strategies that might make that agriculture more productive.”
The regional agricultural office in the Zanskar capital of Padum has already expressed interest in learning from this research, and is currently working on a proposal to develop high-altitude growing structures such as greenhouses. Clouse’s project will assist in informing this broader project, and if successful, could serve as a case study for successful design response to the increasingly challenging issues of food security and water scarcity generated by climate change.