Buddhist
Architecture
in the Western
Himalayas

Field research

A successful field research is the prerequisite for all following work stages. In the first phase, we have to register the various buildings in their entirety by means of sketches and drawings that are the fundament for later measurements. Geographical and topographical particularities, such as landscape, village structures, and orientation of the buildings are an essential part of the survey.
In the second phase, using a laser tachymeter digitally secures an extremely high accuracy of measurements, particularly in extreme topographies and spacious areas. Measuring by hand completes this step in terms of building details and internal spaces that are difficult to access. The third phase includes determining the interior in order to support the interdisciplinary cooperation and to depict the different themes, which usually only appear as fragments, in their context to the entire building. Thus, we are able to locate the various particularities, such as inscriptions, sculptures, wall paintings, painted ceilings and wooden carvings within their buildings context. A considerable number of photographs completes every phase of the fieldwork.

Map of the research area

Documentation and
Analyses

The plan documentation puts together the data that we collected during the field research. Generating the detailed site plans, ground plans, longitudinal and cross sections, evaluations, ceiling plans and wall projections the plan documentation enables us to represent the monuments with all their significant aspects, like spatial organisation, size, and construction. These plans are fundamental for all further analysis and spatial representations.
Based on the two-dimensional plans we are able to create spatial models that provide us with a deeper insight. The spatial elevations and sections clearly show the different configurations and proportions of the buildings. The spatial models allow us to ignore the changes on the exterior of the temples, and help in describing the various building phases.
A compound model of monastic complexes adds to a holistic view of the entire area. It illustrates how various buildings interact and relate within the space and allows us to illustrate the development of buildings in different sequences.
Finally, we combine the plans with representations of the interior and exterior artistic particularities in order to achieve a holistic documentation. This is important because the artwork is often the only help when it comes to dating the building and to reflecting its historical context. Based on the plans and detailed pictures, we can generate complete overviews of the interior by using photomontages and drawings. The scaled representations of wall paintings, painted ceilings, sculptures and woodcarvings help in assigning details and locating them in the overall context. This proved effective in terms of both iconographic research and restoration.

Spatial model of Alchi´s monastery