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Lessons from Mountain living: Building Ecological Connections with Aarti Dhingra

Tiny Farm Friends Ep. 13

What does it mean to create beauty? How can design enhance our lives? How can we get closer to our intuitive mind? Here to help us unwrap these essential ideas is Aarti Dhingra, an architect with a deep interest in ecological design and the visual arts. Her interdisciplinary practice - based out of a small village in Uttarakhand in the Central Himalayas of India - explores interconnections between ecology, design, climate, culture, and social identity. She is a role model and a personal she-ro. Conversations with her are always deep, meaningful, and profound. Her story is quite relatable to us because we too started our design practice in a remote village in the Himalayas. She spent her formative years in the profession working with noted Indian architect and philosopher, M.N. Ashish Ganju on environmental development projects in informal settlements in Delhi, and an Institute of higher learning for Tibetan Buddhist nuns in the foothills of the Himalayas, where she developed a critical understanding of socially and environmentally responsible architecture.

"Bringing someone in touch with their intuitive mind is the best gift someone can give to another person."

Images Courtesy: Aarti Dhingra Following this, she moved to the Kumaon hills where she has been working since 2017, managing projects in remote rural areas on hilly terrain where resources, climate, working conditions, worldviews, and the concept of time are quite different from cities. Being conscious of the social-ecological processes linked with architecture, her work attempts to create dialogues about learning from indigenous knowledge, restoring ecological communities, rekindling our kinship with nature, and having a systems view of architecture and rural-urban planning. Aarti holds a Bachelors in architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture Delhi, a dual Masters in integrated urbanism and sustainable design from University of Stuttgart in Germany, and a Postgraduate diploma in ecological design and construction processes from Building Beauty Sorrento. Today Aarti and I dive deep into what it means to build beauty. We explore gift economy, ethical architecture, and how living close to nature influences creativity. And we discuss migration from villages to cities and vice-versa. This powerful and meaningful conversation is not only for architects willing to take an unconventional path but someone looking to move to the mountains and curious about mountain life. What you will learn: Following your instincts Working in the hills of Uttarakhand Living a life in the countryside Why city people are moving to the hills Ghost villages of Uttarakhand Gift Economy Building beauty I hope you enjoy this conversation with the meticulous and diligent Aarti Dhingra. You can watch it on Youtube or stream it on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite platform. You can dive deeper into her work and reach out to Aarti on the following links: Linkedin: Instagram: @aartinabox , @StudioKumaon



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