Perched high in the mountains of Uttarakhand, India sits The Kumaon, a rustic yet elegant hotel with breathtaking Himalayan views. Zowa Architects designed the hotel to highlight the natural landscape as much as possible while sticking to a minimal footprint and locally sourced materials. All hotel structures were designed to harvest rainwater that’s stored in a large holding tank at the bottom of the site, while interstitial spaces between buildings are planted with seasonal crops to be used in the kitchen.
Located in the village of Kaser devi near the town of Almora, The Kumaon comprises 10 rooms housed in chalets and separates the main shared facilities—the lounge and dining room, library, reception, and spa—in the main building at the highest point of the site from the services building placed at the bottom. The rooms are embedded into the terraced sloping landscape. “We decided to design the rooms in pairs, one atop the other and scatter them across the site at different levels,” wrote the architects. “This was partly to reduce the bulk of the building and also to reduce the overall footprint of the development.”
The main building consists of two floors: the ground floor houses the managers’ quarters and offices in addition to a spacious lounge and library. The floor above is dramatically cantilevered to the north to allow for spectacular views of the Indian Himalayas, which are best enjoyed in the second-floor dining room. The roof of the ground floor doubles as a terrace for outdoor dining and yoga.
To pay homage to the local culture, the architects enlisted the help of local craftsmen and used local materials wherever possible, such as local pinewood that’s found in the flooring, doors and windows. Furnishings were also designed and made on site. The structures, built of concrete, are clad in bamboo stringed together with copper wiring to soften the architecture. The handcrafted furnishings, natural materials palette, and emphasis on natural light give the hotel a rustic back-to-nature vibe.