Gilgit And Beyond: Developing The Fragile Mountain Communities

Gilgit And Beyond: Developing The Fragile Mountain Communities
A two-day training workshop was held in Rupal Inn, Gilgit on 19-20 November by Laajverd, an Islamabad based organisation working in Gilgit Balistan and wider Hindu Kush – Himalayan regions, to discuss Mountain Architecture Guidelines for sustainable tourism development in the area. 

The workshop was attended by community members and stakeholders in the tourism, education and policy sectors who were involved with Laajverd’s work in remote communities in the Northern Areas. The workshop attendees expanded on the Fragile Heritage Framework (FHF) project which has been operating in the area since June 2020. 

The workshop also focussed on the Mountain Architecture Guidelines for sustainable tourism development which gives guidelines about construction in the valleys. Laajverd developed the guidelines in 2020 with a focus on policy for micro to macro level of construction phases and outlined how development in the fragile mountain communities can follow existing spatial zones, respect local privacy, employ local craftsmanship and materials in addition to promoting the local economy. 

The guidelines emphasise on knowledge of the local area and involvement of locals as well as the maintenance of local cultural landscapes. 

On a design level, the document also mentions how interior spaces can be designed to favour the local culture and maintain traditional architectural aesthetics and ornamentation. Laajverd is proposing the Mountain Architecture Guidelines be used throughout the Northern Areas as a necessary policy for construction in the fragile heritage communities of the north, which are already subject to ill suited construction in areas like Hunza. 

The Fragile Heritage Framework is a participatory program which aims to make locals aware of the fragile heritage in their communities and the threats they face due to climate change and development. 

Since its initial community workshops in May-July 2020 and 2021, the framework was further refined and developed by the locals present at the workshop, and ideas about how it could be replicated in similar areas of the north were discussed.