Traditional earthquake-resistant home designs.
Traditional earthquake-resistant home designs.

Jammu and Kashmir, a land of exquisite beauty characterized by awe-inspiring landscapes that can soothe even the most restless souls, is nestled within the verdant hills of northern India. However, as is often the case with such natural splendor, a cost must be paid. Kashmir, despite its unparalleled beauty, is situated in a geographically vulnerable region, making it highly susceptible to earthquakes. Adding to this vulnerability is that the picturesque city of Srinagar is located in an area at significant risk of seismic activity. As it is said,” Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do”, in order to survive this natural disaster, it is high time to put forth some innovative designs to withstand seismic activity.

Today, in this blog, we will discuss the old traditional earthquake-resistant home designs known as Dajji dewari.

Kashmir is known to be a seismically active region that has survived several earthquakes throughout history. Due to the frequent seismic activity in Kashmir, the local population developed innovative methods for coexisting with earthquakes. In the later medieval era, architectural techniques in Kashmir evolved to create resilient structures. These buildings utilized a combination of mud and bricks, reinforced with timber, to construct lightweight yet earthquake-resistant edifices. This marked the inception of distinctive vernacular residential architecture in the Kashmir valley, known as Dhajji Dewari.

The term “Dhajji Dewari” originates from Persian, signifying a wall resembling a patchwork quilt. This architectural style was crafted using locally available materials, making it highly adaptable to the cultural, climatic, and natural nuances of the Kashmir region.

The October 2005 earthquake was the deadliest in a 5000-year documented history of earthquakes of different intensities hitting the valley of Kashmir. Following that earthquake, Dhajji Dewari construction became the underdog that saved many lives because of its unique design. Differing from the conventional masonry-bearing wall construction, this technique involves a timber-framed structure with masonry infills. 

The engineering principle behind the seismic performance of the Dhajji Dewari is meek. The division of the walls into many smaller panels with studs and horizontal members, combined with the use of low-strength mortar, prevents the formation of large cracks that can cause the entire panel wall to collapse, while redundancy is provided by many walls present in a standard residential building, thereby plummeting the probability of calamitous failure of the frame

This distinctive architectural heritage of the Kashmir valley, which was once highly regarded, has unfortunately, in recent decades, been associated with poverty. These home designs have been substituted by contemporary construction methods using bricks, cement and mortar. This prevalent modern approach to construction poses a significant risk in the event of a severe earthquake, potentially leading to disastrous consequences.

Considering the high-risk seismic zone in which Jammu and Kashmir is situated, it is imperative that we revisit and blend these ancient architectural techniques into modern designs for the betterment of humanity. Beyond their appealing rustic aesthetics, these structures stand the test of time because of their progressive construction technique. 

At Swift Homes, we have honed the art of home design, and our foremost priority is addressing the seismic risks associated with construction. Our commitment is to ensure that the new homes built possess the strength and resilience needed to withstand any seismic activity. With an eye for innovation and a commitment to creating stylish spaces, Swift Homes embraces the latest interior design concepts, each project exudes contemporary elegance and functional brilliance while reflecting the distinctive preferences and lifestyles of our esteemed clients, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, with a special focus on the charming region of South Kashmir.

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