Spectacularly jagged, arid mountains enfold this magical former Buddhist kingdom. Picture-perfect Tibetan Buddhist walls are topped with countless mantra-inscribed pebbles. Colorful fluttering prayer flags spread their spiritual messages metaphorically with the mountain breeze.


Ladakh: Far away from major civilization

The enveloping walls of dramatic mountains may make for unforgettable landscapes, but they also mean that road access requires crossing tortuous high passes, which are totally closed off from around October to May. Ladakh is the highest plateau of the state of Kashmir, with much of it over 3,000 m. Located more than 1,000 km north of the Indian capital New Delhi, it extends from the Himalayan to the Kunlun Ranges and includes the upper Indus River valley.


The temple needs to be renovated

Situated about 100 km west of Leh, the 700-year-old Wanla temple is presently maintained by a monk from the Lamayuru monastery. In 1998, Vienna University and Graz University of Technology were commissioned to create documentation defining the condition of the buildings, their importance in terms of art history, and urgent renovation measures.


Save a cultural heritage

The purpose of the project was to contribute to safeguarding the outstanding but endangered cultural heritage of the Himalayas. The three-storey Wanla temple stands out for its murals and clay sculptures still in their original condition.


High roof load endangered the building structure

Initial findings showed that the area above the main niche in particular was more than 1 m thick from the top edge of the roof to the bottom edge of the ceiling. This suggested a tremendous roof load on the walls and the inner timber structure. Severe cracks in the walls and beams were a clear indication that this was the case.

Water damage

The temple roofs had to be renovated. One particular problem was that the thickest – and thus heaviest – layer of the roof was resting on a relatively delicate ceiling structure, as evidenced by visible water damage inside. The main goal of this part of the renovation was to find a solution that would conceal all structural investigations after completion.


Removing a roof of 1 m thickness

The existing roof of up to 1 m thickness was to be removed. The new roof structure is based on a double split aluminum lightweight structure. The original inner ceiling is suspended from spring-born bars.


The solution

The key to the solution was to use lightweight prefab trusses capable of bearing a heavy load. Thanks to their folding mechanism, we could use them in an A and V configuration. In addition to being lightweight, the fact they can be plugged together was very important in terms of transport and assembly. The second truss (A shape) acts as a purlin for the rafters of the new roof. With the trusses in position, the load-bearing timber beams were installed and the layer decked with 3cm thick boards.

A geotextile was placed on the finished decking so as to prevent potential problems with secondary condensation. The joints of the polymeric ceiling membrane were glued together. A new two-layer loam roof structure was installed on top of this. Two supports were successfully used to stop the ceiling from breaking.


Waterproofing finalized the roof

Relieving the load on the cassette ceiling and stabilizing the trusses by screwing them in place allowed the supports to be removed. Sika Austria provided Sarnafil®TG 66-18 for the refurbishment procedure and adhesive tapes for waterproofing the roof. Furthermore, Sika furnished project member Dr. Wolfgang Heusgen with roofing and waterproofing know-how for his scientific research.