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Schedule for the 2015 Sessions of the Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture

This page is for the reference of the interns participating in the Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture at the Dharmalaya Institute in 2015. Some of the events and activities listed here are reserved only for interns who have been accepted formally in the Internship programme or people who have registered for special training programmes at Dharmalaya, while others are open to the general public as well.

Please note that all the details here (including dates, locations, activities, costs, etc.) are subject to change depending on circumstances, but this page should give you a general idea of what to expect and how to plan. Before finalising your plans, we suggest you check this page again to see if anything has changed. We recommend that all 2015 interns bookmark this page to make it easy to check for updates.

In particular, it is important to remember that the first priority of the interns is attending to the needs of the Dharmalaya Institute and its project partners, so keep in mind that the schedule could be changed at any point if something arises for which assistance is required, and interns are expected to be flexible and adapt to the changes.

A note on costs: Where there are special tuition fees or other expenses for a specific programme or event, we will post those here (to the best of our knowledge) so that you can budget accordingly.

 

10-23 March: Orientation & Training (and Continuing Work for Existing Interns)

All interns will report to the Dharmalaya Institute at 2:30pm on 10 March 2015. Please organise your travel so that you arrive in Bir either on 9 March or before noon on 19 March. If you arrive in Bir on 9 March, you will spend the night of the 9th at a hotel/guest house in Bir, freshen up and have your breakfast in Bir the next day, and then we will arrange taxis to pick up all the interns at 2:00pm on 10 March so that you’ll reach Dharmalaya at 2:30pm. We’ll have a welcome meeting, introductions, and a tour of the campus, with time for questions and discussion. 

The group will remain at the Dharmalaya Institute for at least the first two weeks of the programme for an intensive orientation and training programme (see this page for details). During this time, we will provide a general overview of the programme, and then we will get straight to work doing various hands-on projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including work on earthen structures that are in various stages of construction.

Interns who joined the programme earlier will help to orient and train the newly arriving interns, and will continue working as usual (and, likewise, those interns who join with this new batch will be expected to help train the future interns).

Costs: There will be a tuition fee for the two-week intensive training. The fee for the public is Rs 1000 per day including tuition, food and lodging (with a 50% discount for our senior interns with at least two months’ experience, in exchange for helping to supervise and train the junior interns).


25 March to 13 April: Optional Retreat Programme or Holiday (Your Choice)

During this period, the interns will have the option of either participating in a 20-day meditation and service retreat (advance registration required) or taking a holiday of your choice. The value of the retreat for the interns will be to provide an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the contemplative and spiritual traditions of the Himalayas through meditation practice. The spiritual dimension of life is an integral part of the traditions of sustainable and compassionate living in the Himalayas and across India and beyond, and it is important also in developing a deeper personal relationship with nature. Meditation is also a valuable tool in the creative process.

If you prefer not to participate in the retreat, you are free to take a holiday during this time. Note that only those participating in the retreat will be welcome to stay at Dharmalaya during this period, and others will have to stay elsewhere. Popular options for holiday activities in the area include seeing the local villages and their architecture, paragliding in Bir-Billing, visiting Dharamshala and McLeodGanj, and other activities.

Costs: For this period, costs will depend on whether you choose to participating in the retreat or take a holiday. The costs for the retreat are posted here. If you choose to take a holiday instead, then it is at your own expense and we are unable to predict these costs since they are outside our control, but you should budget about the same as you would when travelling elsewhere in India.


15-16 April: Break

Interns will have two free days, to spend as you choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere).

 

17-29 April: Extended Work Period

On 17 April, all the interns will return to Dharmalaya and remain here most of the season. During this time, the focus will be learning the different techniques of earthen building in this region, including adobe (mud bricks), bamboo, stone, and more. We will also do some natural landscaping and organic gardening. Depending on circumstances, there may be opportunities for those with a particular passion or preference to pick one of the available activities to focus on (keeping in mind that the first priority is always the needs of the site).

During this work period, interns will work on site seven hours per day, six days per week, and will have Sundays off to spend however you may choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere).

 

There may be a special programme at Dharmalaya during this time and, if so, the interns might be invited to participate (depending on the nature of the programme).

Costs: No special tuition fees; just the normal costs for food and lodging at Dharmalaya.

 

30 April: Free Day

Interns will have the 30th of April off to spend however you may choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere).


1-8 May: Orientation for New Interns (and Continuing Training for Existing Interns)

All interns will report to the Dharmalaya Institute at 3:00pm on 1 May. Please organise your travel so that you arrive in Bir on 30 April or, at the latest, the morning of 1 May. If you are not already at Dharmalaya, you will arrive in Bir on the 30th of April, spend that at a hotel/guest house in Bir (of your choosing and at your expense), freshen up and have your breakfast in Bir the next day. On 1 May, we will arrange taxis to pick up all the interns at 2:30pm so that you’ll reach Dharmalaya by 3:00pm. We will have a welcome meeting, introductions, and a tour of the campus, with time for questions and discussion.

All interns will remain at the Dharmalaya Institute for the entire duration of the retreat programme. For details about the retreat, see this page.

Interns who joined the programme earlier will help to orient and train the newly arriving interns, and will continue working as usual (and, likewise, those interns who join with this new batch will be expected to help train the future interns).

Costs: There will be a tuition fee for the two-week retreat. The fee for the public is Rs 1200 per day (Rs 8400 total) including tuition, food and lodging (with a 50% discount for our senior interns with at least two months’ experience, in exchange for helping to supervise and train the junior interns).


9 May: Break

Interns will have 48 hours off (from 2pm on 8 May until 2pm on 10 May) to spend however you may choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere).


10-30 May: Extended Work Period

Our focus in May-June will begin with a lot of masonry to finish the walls of our newest buildings, and then gradually shift toward roofing and weatherproofing these buildings so they will be protected by the time the monsoon rains come in late June or July. The work will probably include adobe masonry, bamboo and slate work, and possibly mud plaster and other skills.

During this work period, interns will work on site seven hours per day, six days per week, and will have Sundays off to spend however you may choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere).

Costs: No special tuition fees; just the normal costs for food and lodging at Dharmalaya.

 

1-15 June: Orientation for New Interns & Continuing Training for Existing Interns

All interns will report to the Dharmalaya Institute at 3:00pm on 1 June. Senior interns will be at Dharmalaya already, but newly arriving interns must organise your travel so that you arrive in Bir on 31 May or, at the latest, the morning of 1 June. If you arrive on the 31st of May, you will spend that at a hotel/guest house in Bir (of your choosing and at your expense), freshen up and have your breakfast in Bir the next day. On 1 June, we will arrange taxis to pick up all the interns at 2:30pm so that you’ll reach Dharmalaya by 3:00pm. Please be sure to arrive on time. We will have a welcome meeting, introductions, and a tour of the campus, with time for questions and discussion.

After the introductions, orientation, and general overview of the programme, we will get straight to work doing various hands-on projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including work on several earthen structures that are in various stages of construction. The main focus during this programme will be on roofing and weatherproofing our newest buildings so they will be protected from the rains. The work will probably include bamboo and slate, as well as mud plaster and possibly other techniques. We will also have theory discussions and other presentations and discussions. We may do some water flow management as well, in preparation for the coming rainy season. 

All interns will remain at the Dharmalaya Institute throughout the orientation and training programme (see this page for programme details), except for a one-day break in the middle (when interns will be free either to relax at Dharmalaya or take a day off elsewhere in the area, as you choose).

Interns who joined the programme earlier will help to orient and train the newly arriving interns, and will continue working as usual (and, likewise, those interns who join with this new batch will be expected to help train the future interns).

Costs: There will be a tuition fee for the two-week intensive training. The standard fee is Rs 1000 per day (Rs 14,000 total) including tuition, food and shared accommodations (with a 50% discount for our senior interns with at least two months’ experience, in exchange for helping to supervise and train the junior interns).


16 June: Break

Interns will have two free days (from 2pm on the 15th until 2pm on the 17th), to spend however you choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere).

 

17-30 June: Extended Work Period

For the last few weeks before the monsoon rains begin, we will be totally focused on roofing and weatherproofing our newest buildings so they will be protected from the rains. The work will probably include bamboo and slate, as well as mud plaster and possibly other things. We will also do some water flow management in preparation for the monsoon. All interns will remain at Dharmalaya most of the month, with possible brief visits to other sites.

Please note that the rains typically begin sometime in mid-to-late June, so the second half of the month may become gradualy wetter, and thus the focus might shift toward interior work at some point.

During this work period, interns will work on site seven hours per day, six days per week, and will have Sundays off to spend however you may choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere).

There will be an Earthen Building Workshop at Dharmalaya during this time (22-28 June) and the interns would be required to participate (at extra cost).

Costs: For the Earthen Building Workshop (22-28 June), there is a fee of Rs 1000 per day (Rs 7000 total), including tuition, food, and shared accommodations (with a 50% discount for our senior interns with at least two months’ experience, in exchange for helping to supervise and train the junior interns). Other than this workshop, there will be no special tuition fees during this period; just the normal costs for food and lodging at Dharmalaya.

 

July through September: Monsoon Season

During July, August, and September, it is usually extremeley wet in this region (not 100% of the time, but a lot). Accordingly, most of the work in the monsoon season happens indoors. For example, the monsoon is the time for interior renders (earthen plasters), floor soling, slate tile work, wood finishing, bamboo finishing, making furniture, painting, and other techniques that add beauty and functionality to the interiors. Occasionally, whenever there is a long enough break in the rain, we might continue with outdoor work, including stone masonry and landscaping.

Please note that we do not accept new interns during the monsoon season due to the weather and the reduced availability of skilled artisans to provide training and supervision for the interns. If your academic schedule requires you to do internship work during this time period, then your best solution would be to attend one of our intensive trainings earlier in the year (i.e. March, May, or June) so that you could begin your internship training in the summer and then continue gaining practical experience during the monsoon.

During this work period, interns will work on site seven hours per day, six days per week, and will have Sundays off to spend however you may choose (either relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere). Additionally, once each month we might arrange an optional short trip to see one of the interesting sites in the area.

Costs: No special tuition fees; just the normal costs for food and lodging at Dharmalaya.


15-29 October: Orientation for New Interns & Continuing Training for Existing Interns

New interns will report to the Dharmalaya Institute at 10:00am on 15 October. Please plan to arrive in the town of Bir by 14 October at the latest, so you can spend a night in Bir, freshen up and have your breakfast in Bir the next day, and then you can take a taxi at 9:15am in order to be at Dharmalaya by 9:45am so that we can begin promptly at 10:00am. We’ll have a welcome meeting, introductions, and a tour of the campus, with time for questions and discussion.

After the introductions and orientation, we will get straight to work doing various hands-on projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including work on several earthen structures that are in various stage of construction. We will also have theory discussions and other presentations and discussions. Interns who joined the programme earlier will help to orient and train the newly arriving interns, and will continue working as usual.

All interns will remain at the Dharmalaya Institute for the entire two weeks of the programme (see this page for programme details), except for a one-day break in the middle, which you will be free to spend as you choose (relaxing at Dharmalaya or going elsewhere for the day).

Costs: There will be a tuition fee for the two-week intensive training. The fee for the public is Rs 1000 per day (Rs 14,000 total) including tuition, food and lodging (with a 50% discount for our senior interns with at least two months’ experience with us, in exchange for supervising and training the junior interns).


30-31 October: Break

Interns will have about 2 1/2 free days (from 2pm on 29 October until 9am on 1 November) to spend as you choose (e.g. relaxing at Dharmalaya or taking a short trip elsewhere).

 

1 November - 4 December: Extended Work Period at Dharmalaya Institute

From 9:00am on 1 November, interns will resume work (7 hours per day, 6 days per week, with Sundays off). During this period, you will have diverse opportunities to continue hands-on learning by participating in the work going on at Dharmalaya (with possible occasional visits to other sites, depending on circumstances and needs). During this time, the focus will be learning the different techniques of earthen building in this region, including adobe (mud bricks), bamboo, stone, and more. We will also do some natural landscaping and organic gardening. Depending on circumstances, there may be opportunities for those with a particular passion or preference to pick an activity to focus on (keeping in mind that the first priority is always the needs of the site).

There will be a special programme at Dharmalaya during this time: a Sustainable Living in the Himalayas service-learning retreat from 25 November through 4 December, to which the interns will be invited to participate, or otherwise might continue their work as before. The cost of this retreat is Rs 1000 per day (Rs 10,000 total) including tuition, food and lodging (with a 50% discount for existing interns with at least two months’ experience working with us, in exchange for supervising and training the junior interns).

Costs: Except for the special retreat programme described above, there would be no special tuition fees during this period; just the normal costs for food and lodging at Dharmalaya.


5-6 December: Break

Interns will have about 2 1/2 days free (from 2pm on 4 December until 9:00am on 7 December) to spend as you choose (e.g. relaxing at Dharmalaya or taking a short trip elsewhere).


7 December 2015 - 5 March 2016: Extended Work Period at Dharmalaya Institute

For those interns who are staying through December and beyond, the extended work period will continue until 5 March 2016 (working 7 hours per day, 6 days per week, with Sundays off). Please be aware that it can become quite cold whenever the winter rains come (usually sometime between mid-January and late February). A good option for long-term interns who would rather avoid the coldest weather could be to take a short break for the coldest part of winter (usually mid February) and return around either late Feb or 7 April (please note that there will be no construction work at Dharmalaya from 16-25 March 2016 due to a silent meditation retreat).

Costs: While staying at Dharmalaya for the post-orientation work period, there will be no special tuition fees; just the normal costs for food and lodging at Dharmalaya. Please note, however, that if you are posted to another site for a time, the costs would vary depending on where you would be staying. We are unable to predict outside costs since they are not under our control, but you should budget about the same as you would when travelling elsewhere in India.


2016 Schedule

You can preview the very tentative 2016 schedule for the Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture here.


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General Information

Below is a list of possible topics for discussion during some of the evening programmes:

  • Why we do things the way we do, and the consequences of the conventional approaches
  • How work actually happens on a rural site, as contrasted with urban projects
  • The challenges of building good bridges between the architect (design) and the builders (manifestation)
  • The real-world context in which this work is happening, including historical, socio-economic, political, gender, etc.
  • What each of you dreams of doing and being
  • How to make a living as an eco-architect in modern India
  • How to work with different kinds of clients
  • How to design collaboratively (cooperation v. competition)
  • What else? Feel free to suggest other ideas of special interest to you.


We will also make time periodically to get feedback from all interns about your experiences in the programme, which is an important part of the process.