The Druk White Lotus School, known locally as Druk Padma Karpo School, is a non-denominational educational community in a remote part of India. Conceived by the client as a model for sustainable development in the Ladakh region, it provides education for 840 pupils from nursery age to 16 years old, and residential accommodation for 350 children.
The school’s aim is to give children from this remote part of India a high-quality, modern education, whilst engaging with local cultures or traditions. Our brief was to create a campus that would celebrate and enhance local values, while at the same time making the most of cutting-edge technology and construction methods from the West.
A team of architects and engineers from Arup have worked on the project since 1996 and are responsible for masterplanning, concept, and detailed designs of each phase of construction. The first phase, the nursery and infant courtyard, opened in September 2001, followed by the junior school in 2003. The basic secondary school facilities were completed by 2015, additional facilities as well as a sixth form college (10+2) for 16-18 year olds are planned for the future.
The project is the vision of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa and is executed by Drukpa Trust, a UK-registered charity and its sister organisation The Druk Padma Karpo Educational Society in Ladakh. Further support to the school comes from Arup engineers and architects; one of whom each year volunteers their time to work on site for up to 6 months. They act as ambassadors for the Trust and design team and help the local construction team.
350residential accommodation spaces available for children
2015year the basic secondary school facilities completed
Award-winning environment for learning and teaching
Solid granite blocks used for the outer wall come from stone found on or adjacent to the site. The roof is of a traditional Ladakhi mud construction, including local poplar and willow, and provides good protection from the cold. The buildings are passively heated by the sun with south facing glazed walls to daytime buildings, and ‘’trombe walls’’ to residential buildings.
Water is pumped from melted snow in the aquifer to the site, both for drinking water and for irrigation. The school’s toilets do not require water at all, and have state of the art passive technology to eliminate odours and turn waste into compost.
In October 2008, the first phase of the Druk White Lotus School 42 kWp photo-voltaic system was completed, providing reliable power to the whole site. It uses an initial installation of 9 kWp of PV panels, which also act as external shading devices for three of the school buildings. Previously, electricity was only available intermittently from the local grid or by operating the school’s diesel generator.
The school provides a quality teaching environment, previously unavailable in Ladakh, and responding to the specific cultural needs of the people. The latest news can be found on the school website. The project featured in a publication in 2018 celebrating the bicentennial of the Institute of Civil Engineers.
Arup are currently designing a new Multi Purpose Hall for the school. This will be on site in 2019 and completed in 2020. The building will be used for sports, performances, dining and examinations.
'Grand Award' Design for Asia Awards 2009
'Best Sustainable Development of the Year' Leaf Awards 2012