Roland Pabel

Roland Pabel (2014), The Wanla Temple in Ladakh - Structural interventions on a Buddhist temple, Institute of Architecture Technology; 1st reviewer: Peter Schreibmayer, 2nd reviewer: Helmut C. Schulitz; 389 pages, German.

Sacred Buddhist buildings from the 10th to 14th centuries are amongst the oldest monuments in the Tibetan cultural region of Northern India. Seen against the background of sociological, architectural, cultural and, above all, climatic developments in the region, they have been subject to extensive modifications over the centuries. In the light of these changed outer conditions, structural as well as aesthetical effects on the temple complexes have become evident. One of the main objectives of this research paper is to document structural changes of one concrete project over a period of about 20 years. However, it not only intends to illustrate architectural modifications, but to explain how and to what extent building research into foreign cultures has been conducted ever since the territory was opened to visitors in 1974. This is particularly relevant when the research in question goes beyond mere structural analysis and into the area of practical implementation, leading to the inevitable research question: to what extent are structural measures to maintain the cultural heritage of Tibetan-Buddhist architecture in the Western Himalayan region justifiable? This research has a twofold purpose, focusing on the investigation of material and structural requirements through the “anonymous” architectural culture upon which these buildings are based, as well as the integration of new building materials and structural principles into historic buildings. Both the documentation of research on Wanla Temple as well as a comparative analysis of the obtained work results established the basis for reactive and proactive work in each single project stage. Finally, various different specifications and requirements from the project history, which have led to the current appearance of the temple, can be traced back with the aid of the findings presented in this paper.

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