Prakriti Aalay, A Boutique Resort In Vernacular Architecture: In Memory Of _ Didi Contractor
Delia Narayan Contractor commonly know as 'Didi Contractor' is a pioneer in responsible eco-construction. A self-taught architect, and a creator of 'Prakriti Aalay' where she envisioned a luxury boutique resort inspired by traditional aesthetics, vernacular architecture and ecological sensitivity. Her design adapt vernacular techniques with elegance and utility to create structures that are full of beauty and surprise.
Didi Contractor was born to a German father and an American mother, both Expressionist painters. Her first years were spent in Europe but she grew up in America where she studied art at the University of Colorado and trained as a painter. In the early 1960’s, Didi discovered a career in decoration with the exciting assignment of designing the interiors for the legendary Lake Palace in Udaipur when it was first converted into a celebrated luxury hotel. Since the late 1970s, Didi has lived in the Kangra valley where she built many distinctive eco-homes, clinics, retirement resort, craft center and large Institutes.
Prakriti Aalay offers a liberating experience like no other in the entire Dhauladhars. Motivated by the traditional rich Kangra style of architecture, this picturesque resort of sweeping panoramic vistas is bordered on one side by the perennial Manooni rivulet, flowing straight down from the nearby Himalayan glaciers, while on the other side it is surrounded by lush green Pine forests and entire Himalayan range of Dhauladhars in the backdrop.
Prakriti Aalay is inspired from the undaunted spirit of Himalayas, exhibited in the local architecture, expressed in the unparalleled beauty of the Kangra valley and can be felt in the folklore of rich tradition it is trying to preserve. Here, no stone have been left unturned to give you a luxurious and comfortable stay. At the same time no stone has been turned needlessly and every effort is tried to preserve the nature as it should be, where a person is drawn into the warp and weft of indigenous construction.
Prakriti Aalay is hand crafted, right from stones to sundried adobes to bamboos to recycled wood to natural slates; every corner is full of breath. The use of earthy materials like crafted stones, adobes, mud plaster, bamboo roof and blue slates lends a charming natural ambiance to the resort premises. Designed for the relaxation, there are bright, comfortable spaces, free from artificial tiles and chemicals but, surrounded by bare natural luxury. From corridor to rooms, from dining area to yoga balconies, the resort is drenched in earthy feels.
The suites and rooms are romantically furnished and are light and airy. The splendid spacious all slate bathroom is fitted with shower and features a large window to enjoy the view in privacy. The décor and styling of the resort is also complimenting the architecture. Softly lit bottle style bedside lamp, topped with an antique style ceiling fan, hanging lights and jute rug carpets. The furniture all over the resort is mainly in wood fittings.
Every aspect of the rooms and suites, from their traditional architecture to interiors and to contemporary furnishing has been planned in harmony to nature; thus creating an atmosphere of seamless surprises and unique textures around them. It’s a true amalgamation of traditional architecture, eco construction and contemporary amenities.
Prakriti Aalay is intentionally kept free from all vehicular movements to respect the nature, preserve ecological balance of its beautiful surroundings and for the privacy of guests and hence accessible through an exciting small trek of around fifty meters, followed by a picturesque foot bridge which connects straight to the resort. There is no commercial or residential habitat in the near vicinity, which means that the guests get a clear view and desired privacy at all the times.
As inspired by her love for India and natural beauty of Himachal Pradesh, Didi has designed Prakriti Aalay as a True 'Eco-Responsible Destination,' following eco-practices standards, which is way ahead of the leading global guidelines. Thus Prakriti Aalay is setting a benchmark in the entire region and is one of the very few properties in the country in responsible tourism with shades of bare luxury; while preserving and showcasing the rich vernacular architecture.
In an interview, Didi said, “…the most valuable things are those we cannot buy, like love and sunsets. We have betrayed our relationship with nature. We should be ashamed that we are not leaving behind a better world.”
Architects: Didi Contractor
Project: Prakriti Aalay
Location: Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
Source: Prakriti Aalay