A rendering of Pankhasari Retreat

For those looking for a more extreme escape from the daily commute, architect Carlo Ratti has designed a mountain-side co-working and co-living space in the Indian Himalayas

Pankhasari Retreat will be located in the Darjeeling region, sandwiched between a river and waterfall. It will offer all the digital necessities, as well as views over tea estates and crop plantations.

Pankhasari Retreat

Visitors will be able to choose to stay in one of two homes – part of a stacked building – or in a single dwelling, connected via a covered footbridge. Pitched roofs cover the trio of residencies, all of which feature folding full-length windows and balconies that let inhabitants gaze out across the boulder-covered surrounding region.

‘I had in mind the words of Melvin Webber, who wrote in 1973: “For the first time in history, it might be possible to locate on a mountain top and to maintain intimate, real-time, and realistic contact with business or other associates”,’ says Carlo Ratti. ‘This inspired the design of the Pankhasari retreat and its evolution over the years.’

Pankhasari retreat

Pankhasari Retreat, which broke ground in August, will include sport and farming facilities – for those that want a more rural experience – as well as co-living and working spaces with enough room for four people. Ratti is using local materials including teak and stone to build the structures, and worked with designers and craftsmen from the local area.

Their design also references the verandahs and overhangs typical of the region, offering natural ventilation and shading for visitors.

Pankhasari retreat

‘Will the fact that one can work remotely from the Pankhasari retreat render offices obsolete? Not really,’ adds Ratti.

‘Human interaction is still crucial. Even if we can work from anywhere, that does not mean we always want to. We strive for places that allow us to share knowledge, to generate ideas, and to pool talent and perspectives. Our objective with Pankhasari is not to create a space for isolation – but rather a space to envision a different, more inclusive and sustainable way of inhabiting the world.’

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