The Druk White Lotus School is an outcome of unified design and construction methodology from the west with traditional values. It is located at Shey, high in a mountain valley of Leh Ladakh. The school under the patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an initiative of The Drukpa Trust, a UK-registered charity. Presently it is educating approx 650 pupils from this remote part of India with the aim of propagating a high quality modern education whilst incorporating ancient cultures or traditions. 

The masterplan and school buildings, designed by international architects and engineers from Arup Associates and Ove Arup & Partners combined the best of traditional Ladakhi architecture with 21st century engineering excellence and act as a model for appropriate, cost effective and sustainable development.

The Druk White Lotus School employs following range of environmentally sound strategies for attaining the green building designation. 

  1. MATERIALS: All building materials for the school are sourced locally, providing important trade for the rural communities with least impact on the environment. 
  1. SOLAR TECHNIQUE AND DAYLIGHTENING: The school does not rely on external energy and power. It exploits the ample sunlight using photovoltaic panels for energy. The design of the classroom and others structures is orientated at required angle to gain maximum sunlight making internal lighting and heating redundant. 
  1. SUPERINSULATION: The roofs are constructed using local poplar rafters; willow sheathing topped with mud and rock wool. It is very effective against the harsh exterior conditions and cold winds. 
  1. NATURAL VENTILATION: All the rooms have well-shaded operable windows that allow cross-ventilation that provides a cool, glare-free, teaching environment. 
  1. WATER USE: The school is located in desert with very little rainfall. The main source of water is snowmelt from the surrounding Himalayas. Groundwater extracted from deep well is pumped by PV power to a storage tank located on ground higher than the buildings. A new well is planned for a location above the storage tank in order to eliminate the need for pumping. Waterless “ventilated improved pit” (VIP) toilets (latrines) use solar-assisted stack ventilators to eliminate smells/ insects and help to process waste into odorless compost—an excellent fertilizer. 
  1. SEISMIC DESIGN AND SAFETY: The building structures use timber frames to resist seismic loads and ensure life safety in the event of an earthquake. 

The Druk White Lotus School won World Architecture Awards in 2002 as Best Education Building of the Year, Best Green Building of the Year (joint winner), and Regional Winner – Asia; the Inspiring Design – International Award at the British Council for School Environments 2009. 

The client, Philip Cornwell from Drukpa Trust, said: “It shows what passion, vision, commitment and good teamwork can achieve”.