BIG designs Mindfulness City in Bhutan connected by 'inhabitable bridges'

Danish architecture studio BIG has unveiled its masterplan for a 1,000-square-kilometre development in Bhutan that will include an international airport and a hydroelectric dam incorporating a temple.


Architecture and Design of Mindfulness City

Danish architecture studio BIG has revealed its plans for a large-scale development in Bhutan called Mindfulness City. The development, spanning 1,000 square kilometres, will feature an international airport and a hydroelectric dam with a temple. BIG founder Bjarke Ingels described the project as a series of bridges that connect nature and people, past and future, and local and global. These 'inhabitable bridges' will serve as both cultural landmarks and transportation infrastructure.

The design of Mindfulness City is heavily influenced by the surrounding waterways, with the town of Gelephu becoming a land of bridges. The development will be shaped by 35 rivers and streams, and the bridges will connect different neighbourhoods within the city. Each bridge will be multifunctional, combining cultural, educational, recreational, and infrastructural elements. The buildings within the masterplan will be constructed using local materials and will reflect the traditional Bhutanese architectural style.

Features of Mindfulness City

Mindfulness City will not only include an international airport and a hydroelectric dam, but also various other features. The airport, located at the foot of the valley, will have a timber terminal acting as a bridge and its runway raised above several rivers. Additionally, the development will contain a university, healthcare centre, market, and a Vajrayana spiritual centre, all connected by bridges that crisscross rivers. The hydroelectric dam, called the Sankosh Temple-Dam, will serve as a man-made cliff and incorporate a temple.

Mindfulness City will prioritize sustainability and the preservation of Bhutanese nature and culture. The masterplan aims to create a city that fosters growth and innovation while staying true to its roots. The buildings will be constructed using local materials such as wood, stone, and bamboo, and will be built alongside permeable paved streets. The surrounding paddy fields will act as biodiversity corridors, promoting ecological balance.

BIG's Vision for Mindfulness City

BIG hopes that the masterplan for Mindfulness City will set an example for future developments in Bhutan. Bjarke Ingels, the founder of BIG, envisions the city as a unique place that harmonizes with its natural surroundings. He believes that Mindfulness City can be a place where nature is enhanced, agriculture is integrated, and tradition is not only preserved but also evolved. By emphasizing sustainability and integrating cultural and natural elements, the development aims to create a city that is unlike any other.