Text description provided by the architects. In 2008, Bhutan has been the first country in the world applying the GNH rate (Gross National Happiness) instead of GDP. To celebrate this, The Bhutan Royal and Government have decided to build a center for happiness, where everyone can visit and share their experiences and philosophy about happiness living through meditation, and learn how to be happy and independent from materials.
Two in the four main GNH rates are environment protection and preserving culture and identity. Therefore the Bhutan Government has required the GHN center to be environmental friendly and representing local contemporary and traditional cultural identity through design.
The project includes a 100 seat convention house, a meditation hall for 250 people, administration, kitchen and dining room, and 5 accommodation houses. The cluster locates on the high mountain close to the river of Bumthang, northeast Bhutan.
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 half meter wall made of stone and soil ensure keeping the heat in cold winter. The concrete and wooden beam structure; solar energy and water through a natural filter system have helped 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 are part of the natural system.
The main meditation hall is inspired from the harmonies and Asian symbols of the earth and heaven with the first storey in round shape and the second in square shape. The idea is to create a balance life for human in which people do not dominate but live peacefully with nature and support each other to create a sustainable universe.
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 entire site slightly locates within the beautiful pine forest, becoming an integral part of it.
The opening ceremony took place in October 2015 with the attendance of the Princess and Royal of Bhutan. The Bhutan Center of Happiness is now well operated and welcome by the people of Bhutan as well as international tourists.