Bhutan Elder Sangha Sanctuary

Bhutan Elder Sangha Sanctuary


This Buddhist sanctuary and residential compound in rural Bhutan allows senior monks to age-in-place within a vibrant, intergenerational community. The project is the first in Bhutan to incorporate ADA-design standards in a multi-unit residence.

The development clusters living, social, and spiritual zones in a densified compound within a 73-acre wooded campus. This seemingly urban arrangement of mixed-use buildings both preserves and contemporizes rural ways of life for this Buddhist community, which now benefits from more opportunities for daily interaction between elder monks and their younger peers.

The project adheres to the Bhutanese government’s mandate that traditional architecture and construction methods remain in place as the country opens to foreign development, although contemporary concerns for light quality, environmental sustainability, and improved conveniences influence the design’s forms and arrangements. For example, traditional raised roofs that provide ventilation and shading here are clad with translucent panels, which introduce abundant light to the interiors. The buildings are intended to serve as prototypes across Bhutan to be easily replicable and adaptable as well as environmentally and culturally appropriate. Working with His Majesty, the King of Bhutan and the head of the Monk Body, His Holiness Jhe Khenpo, we developed the master plan and feasibility study, and helped to shape the capital campaign essential to realizing the project.

Client: Zhung Dratshang Central Monastic Body
Scope: Master Planning, Architecture