Pithoragarh on Sunday remembered Laurie Baker, the British-born Indian architect known for his cost-effective energy-efficient architecture and designs.
Baker, along with his Indian wife Elizabeth, had spent 15 years of his early life with missionaries for lepers in the town. He also designed low-cost housing in the Chankar area of the district.
“Baker lived in this border region between 1948 and 1963. He contributed a lot for hill villages in the shape of his non-conventional model of houses made from local material, substituting RCC, that can still be seen in Chandak hills, where he lived for over 15 years,” said Lalit Pant, an associate of Pahar, an NGO that organised the programme in his memory.
Shakher Pathak, the team leader of Pahar, said, “We will soon organise a symposium on Laurie’s architectural work adoptable in hill region, so the designs of low-cost houses is made available before the governments, who want less money be spent to benefit more people under their housing schemes.”
According to senior residents of villages near Chandak, Baker, along with his doctor wife, used to visit the surrounding villages. “He used to advise villagers to construct houses with brick jali walls with a perforated brick screen, which utilised natural movements to cool the houses in summer months. Some of the villages that adopted these methods are still having these monuments of Baker houses,” said Janardan Pant, a resident of Dhunga village near Chandal hill.
Baker, who passed away at Thiruvananthapuran in Kerala in 2007, was known worldwide for his architectural skills. The Englishman was awarded by the Government of India with Padmashri in 1990. He was also awarded by the UN in 1992 and International Union of Architects Award in 1993.
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