Located at an altitude of 1700m, the BASA tourism center in Khirsu, India, is a building designed by Compartment S4 to empower the local village community. The project was originally the winning entry of a design competition to build an earthquake resilient house. However, after further research and development with the local people and regional government, it was finally decided to become a place to promote tourism and stimulate the village economy.
The design responds to the cold temperate climate of the himalayan mountains and remoteness of the site, while providing structural resilience to earthquakes and landslides. The building is designed with heavy stone filled gabion retaining walls at the bottom and a light wooden structure on top covered with wattle and daub panels as an infill material. Undressed stone is used in the gabion walls.
BASA is crafted with a balance between local knowledge and modern construction techniques aiming to encourage community participation and ownership. The tourism center has a community kitchen and a space to display local products on the lower level. The upper floor houses an exhibition portraying the local heritage and culture of Khirsu along with essential information for tourists. This space can also function as a recreational space for the tourists who are staying at the BASA homestay.
The Uttarakhand government is promoting homestays among the locals in order to aid the village economy as well as social fabric of the region. The aim is to gradually increase the global presence of rural areas. BASA is therefore introduced as a model for locals to become inspired to open-up their spare rooms as homestays in Khirsu. As an initiative managed by locals, it intends to revitalize the local economy and instill a conscious approach to tourism, which can help preserve the natural and cultural landscape of Khirsu.
BASA, in the garhwali language, is an expression that means to invite guests into your house for a night.
Women empowerment is an integral part of the initiative since they are considered the driving engine of the Garhwal region. The place is made to be run by the local self-help group, unnati. Along with handling the stay, the women will also be engaged in production and packaging all the local village products and crafts that will be sold to the tourists.