Bhutan to build ecological ‘Mindfulness City’

Credit: Bjarke Ingels Group/BRICK VISUAL/Cover Images

A remarkable city is to be built in Bhutan.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan has unveiled plans for a new ‘Mindfulness City‘ in his kingdom.

Bhutan is the world’s first carbon-negative country, and aims to build on that eco-friendly achievement by creating a blissful green city of the future.

Situated in Gelephu in Southern Bhutan, the ‘Mindfulness City’ designed by BIG, Arup, and Cistri aligns with Bhutanese culture, Gross National Happiness index principles, and spiritual heritage.

Designed by BIG’s Landscape and Urban Design Team, the masterplan incorporates an international airport, railway connections, hydroelectric dam, public spaces, and local building typologies based on the Gross National Happiness domains.

“The Gelephu Masterplan gives form to His Majesty’s vision to create a city that becomes a cradle for growth and innovation while remaining founded on Bhutanese nature and culture,” says Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group.

Nestled amid mountains, forests, and rivers, Bhutan boasts 70 per cent forest coverage, making it one of Earth’s last biodiversity hotspots.

Mindfulness City, inspired by interconnected ecosystems and Bhutan’s cultural heritage, features ribbon-like neighbourhoods resembling paddy fields.

The city, shaped by waterways, becomes a blend of nature and tradition. Cultural landmarks, resembling inhabitable bridges, connect nature and people. The hydroelectric dam on the city’s western border serves as a viewpoint, meditation walk, and temple. Resilient streets allow stormwater seepage, while local materials like wood, stone, and bamboo, inspired by vernacular motifs, will be used in building construction.

Giulia Frittoli, Partner in Charge, BIG Landscape, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, adds: “Inspired by the Bhutanese culture of respect and compassion for others and nature, the Mindfulness City is designed to enhance ecological systems, through an urban development that connects flora and fauna, as well as people and ideas.”

Cover Media via Reuters Connect

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Credit: Bjarke Ingels Group/BRICK VISUAL/Cover Images
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