Himalayan retreat offers remote working, literally

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The Pankhasari Retreat will be located in a valley in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, India(Credit: Carlo Ratti Associati)

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A great deal of co-living and co-working spaces are located in cities, like London's Collective Stratford, but so long as there is an internet connection that doesn't always need to be the case. An extreme example of this is Carlo Ratti Associati's planned Pankhasari Retreat, which aims to let people work online from the Himalayas.

The retreat will be located in a valley in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, India. Unlike most similar facilities, it won't boast things like affordable city living, a convenient location and handy transport links. Instead, the site will be bound by a swift river and waterfalls on the south-facing side of a mountain.

As to what sort of connection users can expect high up in the Himalayas, Carlo Ratti Associati tells us that internet will be provided via satellite at "guaranteed broadband speeds," though no hard figures have been forthcoming. The firm has been working with engineers and expects to finalize the details over the coming months.

"Though a mountain top might be a bit extreme to some, the Himalayan valley of Pankhasari is an ideal place for staying connected and testing new longer term concepts of international living and working, trying to build a bridge between the local and the global communities," says Carlo Ratti, professor at MIT in Cambridge and founding partner of Carlo Ratti Associati.

Carlo Ratti Associati has developed the project in partnership with Turin-based architect Michele Bonino, along with a team of over 20 professionals. The buildings are said to have been designed collaboratively with local residents, craftsmen and practitioners from the surrounding area.

The complex will feature residential, business, sports and farming facilities. It will comprise three stacked volumes connected by a covered footbridge, with the buildings constructed using local materials like stone, farmed teak and sissoo, a native Indian Roseweood.

The verandas and overhangs commonly found in the local architecture have been "reinterpreted" in the designs to protect residents from extreme rain and sun. The designs also seek to prioritize cooling, shading and natural ventilation. Each residential unit will be home to three or four people and will have a living space, a studio, a kitchen, two bedrooms and bathrooms. There will also be teleworking facilities.

Construction of the mountain retreat kicked off at the end of August.

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