Mindfulness City: Bhutan's Sustainable Metropolis

Mindfulness City
Mindfulness CityImage Source: BIG


During Bhutan's 116th National Day, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck unveiled plans for Gelephu's 'Mindfulness City,' a 1000+ km2 economic hub. This eco-conscious endeavor, informed by Bhutanese culture and the Gross National Happiness index, aims to blend growth, tradition, and sustainability, incorporating green tech, education, and infrastructure.


In a landmark proclamation at Bhutan's 116th National Day celebration, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck introduced the concept of 'Mindfulness City' to foster economic prosperity within Bhutan's carbon-negative landscape. Situated in Southern Bhutan's Gelephu, this extensive 1000+ km2 masterplan, crafted in collaboration with Arup and Cistri, intertwines Bhutanese heritage, the principles of Gross National Happiness (GNH), and spiritual roots.

Conceived by BIG's Landscape and Urban Design Team, the masterplan is a blueprint for future growth, prioritizing sustainable opportunities for the Bhutanese populace. Its comprehensive scope encompasses green technology advancements, educational institutions, and infrastructural marvels like an international airport, railway networks, a hydroelectric dam, public domains, and architectural expressions rooted in local traditions.

Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, envisions Mindfulness City as a unique haven blending nature, culture, and innovation. He envisions a city deeply embedded in its surroundings, where agriculture thrives harmoniously with enhanced natural landscapes, fostering both tradition and evolution. With a network of bridges symbolizing connectivity, the city embraces its heritage while evolving as a global entity.

The city's architectural marvels, akin to the traditional Dzongs, serve as both cultural landmarks and practical conduits, interweaving transportation and civic functionality. A prominent feature, the Sankosh Temple-Dam, embodies the city's ethos within a tiered landscape, presenting a modern marvel akin to the legendary Tigers Nest – a testament to sustainable human existence harmonizing with nature's forces.


Mindfulness City emerges as Bhutan's beacon of sustainable progress, a harmonious blend of tradition, innovation, and environmental stewardship. Rooted in Bhutanese culture, this visionary initiative is set to redefine urban landscapes by cultivating a city that thrives on interconnectedness, sustainability, and reverence for its cultural heritage.

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