• Architecture isn't just buildings. It is how we engage with the space around us – in learning, in socializing, in working, in playing and in our constant connection with the materials that form the built environment.
    The Khumbu Climbing School project in Phortse, Nepal, founded by the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation and designed by the MSU School of Architecture, is as much a unique process of open source education as it is an unprecedented building prototype for healthy living, seismic safety and cultural sustainability.

    | Michael Everts

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Making Haste Very Slowly

Hitting the ground running The monsoon has passed and not quietly.  Even after rain-soaked landslides have flattened homes and ripped a cable bridge from its moorings life in the Khumbu Valley appears much the same and though and earthquake 200 miles away shifted the dry-stacked stones of the Sherpa homes the stoic villages stand unfazed. … Continue reading

The Calm Between Two Storms

Back in the Khumbu the construction of the Khumbu Climbing Center continues…. The sound of a dozen masons clinking piece by piece brings 160 cubic meters of stone out of the earth as the 4 foot thick walls of the soon to be climbing and community center in Phortse, Nepal. Pushing through the cold dry … Continue reading

Back in Business

So it has been a few months but a good deal of progress has been made.  Since last I wrote, I have spent another 2 months in Nepal with the primary intent of rebuilding the gabion foundation walls that replaced the single wythe dry-stack stone walls previously installed.  The majority of this time was spent … Continue reading

Namche via the Forgotten Village

Resolved to the fate of deconstructing the nearly crumbling wall, and to figuring out a solution to the water source beneath the building, we began to tramp back down the valley to Namche for a little bit of consultation and time to think. Being a bright and windless day we decided on changing our route … Continue reading


Today marked the biggest physical change of the building site as of yet – albeit it looked a bit more like a step backward than a step forward. Nearly a week ago we decided that our best course of action to both assess the true quality of the wall constructed as well as fix the … Continue reading

More Yak-Bell?

The last few weeks have seemed fairly uneventful on the site with the work mostly being digging and breaking stones. Without a transit we have been working with water-levels and string-levels to gauge the status of the site. Having gone to Namche while the site was being dug we wanted to make an assessment of … Continue reading

The Pooper Scooper Expedition of 2010

We came a little bit closer to Earth after the surreal experience at the nunnery.  Our feet were now in the mud – well not quite mud. In the now regularly cold morning clouds had begun to skirt the mountains around us. The not-so-upper reachs of Khumbila, Thamserku and Kongde were dusted in white. Phortse … Continue reading

Rockslides, and Making Rocks Smaller Rocks

Reluctantly we left the calm excitement of the nunnery to return to Phortse. The gompa, backed in the extreme drama of the Everest massif, hid itself in the trees and rhododendron as we headed for the hill up to Tengboche Monastery. As the surreal location concealed itself we too took to the trees, forsaking the … Continue reading

Ngawong Pema Sherpa

One day in 1967 Ngawong Pema sherpa entered her house never to reemerge. Committing to the life of a nun was one thing, indefinite house-arrest is another. Stepping through the threshold of the simple stone house, Ngawong was prepared for a lifetime of meditation, never to leave her dwelling at the nunnery in Deboche tucked … Continue reading

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