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The Yangri Hope Project

Shocked by the devastating 2015 earthquakes, the charity "Himalayan Life" decided to expand their activities beyond working with street children and began participating in reconstruction. Similar to our work in Romania, the Yangri Hope Project involves the introduction of wood, a structural material far better suited for seismic resistance than dry stone masonry.

The construction of a building for the repaired micro hydro-electric plant served to demonstrate the new material and technique, and a boarding school is now under construction.

As the project progresses, we are happy to see the people of Yangri building their own school and houses, but we are even more excited about what the project is offering along the way. With more reasons to stay in Yangri, bright and energetic youth are finding an education and a challenge in helping reconstruct their village. Instead of finding poverty, crime and pollution in Kathmandu, they are redefining their regional culture and maintaining their agricultural practices. Together, we are averting a pattern of cultural homogenization that we see around the world.

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The Yangri Hope Project

At 7.3 and 7.8 on the Richter scale, the 2015 quakes were not extreme by historic standards. Still the houses built of dry stone masonry turned to rubble almost instantly, killing many. The shacks in this image were built from corrugated roofing salvaged or brought in by mostly Chinese aid, represented by the blue tent in the background.

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The Yangri Hope Project

Micro hydro-electric plants are found across Nepal and offer great benefit to remote communities like Yangri.

After repairing the headrace damaged in the quake, the people of Yangri, with direction from Himalayan Life, installed a second penstock and turbine. Now the capacity has doubled to 54 kilowatt, and transmission lines bring light to villages as far as 1000 vertical meters above.

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The Yangri Hope Project

The next task was to build a shelter around the expensive generating equipment.

Himalayan pine grows thick and straight above 2,400m elevation, about 1000m above Yangri. It is cut in a pit saw and carried down to the village.

With plentiful timber at higher elevations, we think ductile wood framing techniques suit this region. For the powerhouse, we specified members that are light and short enough to be transported on human backs from forests above. Steel rods and a system of "knuckles" were used for bracing that allowed some deformation and absorption of forces in a quake.

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The Yangri Hope Project

The power house was an opportunity to demonstrate not only wood framing, but the use of translucent fibreglass: light, flexible, and relatively cheap in Nepal. We hope that once people see the benefits of daylight to the human spirit, they will look more favorably at wood construction where daylight and safety can be achieved.

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The Yangri Hope Project

We were impressed with the craftsmanship the Yangri carpenters. Convinced by his experience building the power house, Yangri's lead carpenter, Sonam, built his own house, with no plans or guidance from us! We see this as the best possible outcome of such an intervention.

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The Yangri Hope Project

With the original principles, we developed a design for a school, this time using corrugated steel as a diaphragm to achieve shear strength while providing generous openings. In Nepal, plywood is unavailable, but corrugated steel is commonly used.

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The Yangri Hope Project

The new building is oriented to control sunlight and offer ventilation, key aspects of a safe and illuminated learning environment.

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The Yangri Hope Project

Close but separate from the village, the boarding school complex forms a sheltered court yard.

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The Yangri Hope Project

Stone walls contain the river, preventing the footings, foundation, and septic system from being undermined.

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The Yangri Hope Project

They may be fledgling framers, but the Yangri team certainly knows how to build. They are determined.