If you’ve ever studied plate tectonics, you know that the Himalayan Mountains were formed when the Indian plate crashed into the Eurasian plate. That area is still geologically active, with lots of earthquakes. But people learned how to build houses that could withstand the tremors. An ancient building technique called kath kuni (“wooden corner”) combines layers of stone and alternating layers of deodar wood, with the wood beams interlocking at the corners. The stone provides strength, and the wood provides flexibility to survive an earthquake.
But there is more to the kath kuni buildings. The upper floors are often wider than the first floor. The first floor is a shelter for livestock, which provide heat that rises to the upper floors where people live. The walls are double thickness, and a slate roof holds the whole thing together. The problem is that deodar wood is expensive and hard to get for historical reasons, and new homes in the Himalayas are built with concrete. Earthquakes can destroy concrete homes, but the kath kuni homes of the Indian state Himachal Pradesh can stand for hundreds of years. Read about kath kuni and see more spectacular examples at BBC Travel. -via Damn Interesting
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