Bhutan is the first country in the world applying the GNH rate (Gross National Happiness) instead of GDP. Commissioned to the country’s Royal and Government, the Bhutan Happiness Center is a sustainable complex surrounded by Nature representing local contemporary and traditional cultural identity through design.
“Visitors can share their experiences and philosophy about happiness living through meditation, and learn how to be happy and independent from materials” says to Archipanic architect Hoang Thuc Hao who completed the project with 1+1>2.
The entire site slightly locates within a beautiful pine forest on a high mountain near the Bumthang river in the northeast of Bhutan. The project includes a 100 seat convention house and a meditation hall for 250 people. Smaller structures host offices, a kitchen and a dining room as well as five accommodation houses.
The main meditation hall is inspired from the harmonies and Asian symbols. The oval shape of the first storey refers to Nature while the squared shaped upper floor refer the artificial element. Together they create a balance indicating a lifestyle “in which people do not dominate but live peacefully with nature and support each other to create a sustainable universe” says Hoang Thuc Hao.
The convention house with the eclipse shape is inspired from the Buddha tree together with the use of typical vernacular decoration details in a contemporary context.
The design principles are the harmonies among different natural materials: soil – stone – wood; between indoor and outdoor spaces, between technology and traditional vernacular experiences. The buildings feature a half meter high wall made of stone and soil that keeps the heat during the winter. The concrete and wooden beam structure complete the structures making use of solar energy and a natural water-filtering system that help to save energy and increase the connection between human and nature.
Existing pine trees were used to build the administration and accommodation centers. With the ecologically sensitive approach, the buildings have been conceived as part of the natural system. The Bhutan Happiness Center was one of the nominated projects at World Architecture Festival 2016.
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The Chapel community center by a21studio in Ho Chi Min, Vietnam, features a tree-alike column, white painted recycled materials and colorful fabrics. Surrounded by Baltic pine forests, the Arvo Pärt Centre by NietoSobejano Arquitectos was inspired by the Estonian composer’s symphonies and tunes architecture with Nature.
All photos by Son Vu – Courtesy of Hoang Thuc Hao.