• YEAR : 2011
  • LOCATION : Sikkim, India
  • CATEGORY : Institutional

Sikkim Butterfly Reserve

The proposed Butterfly Reserve in Sikkim aims to be a celebration of the butterfly, found in abundance in the region. The North Indian state has a high variation in vegetation and climate and a unique geographical location. This makes Sikkim one of the butterfly hotspots in the world. Today however, their habitat is damaged by urbanization, infrastructural developments, invasion of exotic, non-native plants and climate change.



Humans are deeply interlinked with the life of butterflies. Butterflies are indicators of the health of our environment. They directly associated with cultural beliefs and ancestry of the Himalayans.

The inherent conflict between behavior of humans and the butterflies’ habitat, forms the central theme of the design of the butterfly Reserve. Therefore any architectural intervention needs to be sensitive of its social and physical environmental impact.



As a butterfly perches on tendril legs on a flower barely touching what it feeds on, so the interventions are designed to reduce the interference with the site. The interpretation pavilions are therefore lightweight timber frame structures on light steel columns. It is  based on the “wattle and daub” timber frame structures that are a common vernacular building method in Sikkim. However the architecture changes its appearance by cladding the frames with local roofing shingles. These timber sheets are mounted in a way not unlike the scale on a butterfly’s wing. The butterfly is a reminder to make changes when the opportunity arises. Change and transformation are inevitable for us all. The journey through the park encourages this in the hope for a better environment.

Project Data

Project Name

Sikkim Butterfly Reserve


Rangrang, Sikkim, India




Institutional, Recreational, Landscape


Sustainability, Context, Technology, Public


Competition, 1st prize

Design Team

Architecture BRIO + fUSE Studio


29 hectares


Landscape park, Interpretation pavilions, Butterfly enclosures, Research centre, etc.

The Butterfly entrance structure is the culmination of the Butterfly Reserve as a constructed ecology: the watchtower comprises of a vertical butterfly garden interweaving through three cantilevered interpretation pavilions wrapped in a netted enclosure.

Site plan, The ‘butterfly enclosures’ and Interpretation Pavilions are dispersed throughout the landscape and the visitor is drawn into the natural habitat of the butterfly, following them through the landscape.

High variation in vegetation, climate, and a unique geographical location, attract an impressive butterfly population.

A lush landscape filled with nectar and feeding plants attract butterflies, which lay their eggs on the feeding plants. By increasing the richness and variety of these plants, the population and diversity of butterflies increases.

Teesta River- On one hand the Reserve attempts to increase the diversity and quantity of butterflies in Sikkim, and on the other hand it intends instigate curiosity and awareness in people by bringing them close to their habitat.

As a butterfly perches on tendril legs on a flower it feeds on, so the interventions should reduce the interference with the natural environment already existing on site.

Sketches of netted enclosure, In select areas netted enclosures protect the larvae and caterpillars from predators.

The nets will have to have just the right aperture to prevent butterflies escaping and allow sufficient percolation of sun light.

Material reference of wooden shingles – Its structure is based on tensegrity and balance; it is biomimicry in the form of camouflage and display.

Research and breeding centre. The pavilions would be prefabricated to minimize construction disturbance at site. The steel supporting structure will be embedded in the rocky surface.

Entrance Pavilion: Plan Level -2

Entrance Pavilion: Plan Level -1

Entrance Pavilion: Plan Level 0

Section FF – The structures are a contemporary interpretation of the “wattle and daub” timber frame structure, which is a common vernacular building method in Sikkim.

Section GG

Entrance Pavilion

“Fold-able” drawings: life cycle pavilions , inspection huts, research centre, basking pavilion