Sustainable Serenity: Landscape Architects Spearhead Gelephu’s Urban Renaissance

Very recently, His Majesty The King announced a vision, an audacious venture: the creation of a groundbreaking “Mindfulness City” nestled in the verdant expanse of Gelephu, near the Indian border.

Led by renowned architecture firms BIG, Arup, and Cistri, this visionary project seeks to harmonize urban development with Bhutan’s cherished values of mindfulness and environmental conservation. At its heart lies a profound respect for nature and a commitment to nurturing the nation’s spiritual and ecological heritage.

Giulia Frittoli, partner and head of landscape at BIG, elucidated the ethos behind the Mindfulness City, emphasizing the imperative of awareness and mindfulness in fostering sustainable progress. “To be mindful is to be aware — to perform best,” she affirmed, echoing the ethos that underpins Bhutan’s ethos.

Spanning an expansive 386 square miles, the city’s design is meticulously crafted to minimize ecological impact while embracing the region’s natural splendor. Situated on one of Bhutan’s flattest terrains, the site was chosen to safeguard the nation’s lush forests, which are enshrined in the country’s constitution.

“We started from the environment,” Frittoli explained, underscoring the project’s landscape-centric approach. With 35 rivers meandering through the site, the city’s blueprint ingeniously integrates these waterways, accommodating their fluctuating flows and nurturing biodiversity corridors for the region’s cherished elephant population.

Moreover, the Mindfulness City is not merely a feat of architectural ingenuity but a testament to Bhutan’s unwavering commitment to holistic well-being. Guided by the principles of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index, the city prioritizes psychological well-being, education, ecological resilience, and community vitality.

Central to this ethos is the city’s carbon-positive framework, rooted in Bhutan’s status as a carbon-positive nation. Embracing locally sourced, sustainable materials such as stone, mass timber, and bamboo, the city exemplifies a harmonious coexistence between urban development and environmental conservation.

In envisioning the Mindfulness City, Bhutan aims not only to alleviate economic disparities but also to foster a renaissance of opportunity for its youth. By creating white-collar jobs in research and innovation, the city seeks to stem the exodus of young talent and revitalize rural communities.

As the project unfolds over the coming decades, it will serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration, showcasing the transformative power of mindful urban planning. With its visionary approach and steadfast commitment to sustainability, the Mindfulness City promises to be a testament to Bhutan’s enduring legacy of harmony between humanity and nature.

Related Posts