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Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Nepal Architecture News - Dec 18, 2023 - 12:35   1534 views

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled masterplan for prayer, meditation and peace in one of the most sacred sites of Buddhism at the Ramagrama Stupa in Nepal.

The masterplan features a large Peace Meadow around the sacred Bodhi Tree surrounded by a Biodiversity Ring Garden. The project aims to enhance "one of the most significant representative places in the Buddhist world", which houses a still intact portion of the relics of Buddha. 

Ramagrama is the municipality situated in Parasi district in western Nepal on the banks of the Jharahi River, just 50 kilometers east of Lumbini - the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. 

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Biodiversity Ring Garden and Peace Meadow

The site is home to Ramagrama Stupa, an archaeological site covered by a hill and by a centuries-old tree, under which rests a still intact portion of the relics of Buddha, one of the most important historical, cultural and religious sites for Buddhism.

"The Ramagrama Stupa, dated back to the earliest period of the Buddhist tradition, presents itself today as a green mound, crowned by a majestic Bodhi Tree which integrates four distinct plant species, reflecting the unity and harmony of Buddhism's core teachings," said Stefano Boeri Architetti.

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Biodiversity Ring Garden

Several organizations and Buddhist communities have committed themselves tothe preservation and sustainable enhancement of the Ramagrama Stupa, with the objective in mind of conserving this site of extraordinary historical and cultural significance, in accordance with the standards set by UNESCO for World Heritage Sites (Lumbini is in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage sites).

From this perspective, Stefano Boeri Architetti was entrusted with the design of the masterplan of the Ramagrama Stupa. 

The project has been presented on the site of the Ramagrama Stupa in Lumbini, during an impressive ceremony in the presence of several communities of Buddhist monks, the Prime Minister of Nepal, Nepalese and Indian institutional representatives and a large number of the public. 

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

External Stupa

The masterplan of Stefano Boeri Architetti, in coherence with the historical and spiritual significance of the 'stupa’ - the sacred structure that houses Buddha's relics. 

The masterplan aims to enhance the role of Ramagrama both as an archaeological site and as a place for prayer, meditation and peace.

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Peace Meadow

"This project represents an extraordinary challenge for us: that of creating a meaningful center for prayer, meditation and peace in one of the most sacred sites of Buddhism," said Stefano Boeri, founder of Stefano Boeri Architetti. 

"Respecting the very rich symbolism of Buddhist scriptures, we proposed the creation of a large Biodiversity Garden Ring around the Ramagrama Stupa with a high level of biodiversity in terms of plant species." 

"It will surround the Peace Meadow, a wide gathering and meditation area for the thousands of monks, pilgrims and visitors who will approach the Bodhi Tree and the Stupa," he continued. 

"Due to its truly universal value and collaborative nature across cultures and nations, this project will become one of the most significant ongoing cultural heritage projects in Nepal," Boeri added.

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Peace Meadow

The masterplan is shaped around the Bodhi Tree - a sacred tree of the Buddhist tradition characterised by a high level of biodiversity, and the still intact Stupa of Buddha, maintaining a form of respectful distance to make the archaeological remains accessible for future researches.

In order to enhance the perception of real uniqueness of the place, the project proposes a gradual approach to the sacred site, providing a succession of spaces that emphasise the symbolic significance of Ramagrama Stupa, starting from the four monumental portals that identify the four directions of access, up to the central hill.

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Shadowed meditation ring

In line with Stefano Boeri Architetti's design philosophy, the firm envisions a new harmony between living nature and architecture, the masterplan includes a central element: the "Peace Meadow" - it is conceived as an open space for contemplation, with a ground design that recalls the mandala and the symbolic role of the place. 

The large central meadow, reaching at 600 metres in diameter, is surrounded by a circular system of facilities, cultural spaces and areas for meditation and prayer covered by the Biodiversity Ring Garden. 

The Biodiversity Ring Garden is designed as a slope hosting 80,000 plants of 70 different species, with plant varieties selected from native species from the Terai plain, the birth place of Buddha, and ending in a circular elevated pathway shaded by trees, in order to offer a full view over the Ramagrama Stupa. 

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Shadowed meditation ring

Considering the local climatic and environmental conditions, special attention was given in the project to the issue of shading the pedestrian paths in order to guarantee adequate use of the space by monks and visitors in all seasons and throughout the day.  

Stefano Boeri Architetti said the project also references to the work of Kenzo Tange, author of the masterplan and project for the Lumbini Museum in 1978. 

Stefano Boeri Architetti unveils masterplan for a new meditation center in Nepal

Masterplan

The studio will use local materials for the new center for prayer, meditation and peace, which is aimed at reducing the environmental impact. This would also remind the local production of bricks and enhancing the site’s architectural tradition.

 Stefano Boeri Architetti and SON Architects won the tender organised by the Ministry of Culture and the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) to develop a vision for an archaeological site in Durrës, Albania. Additionally, the firm completed the first Chinese Vertical Forest in the city of Huanggang in Hubei province. 

Project facts

Architects: Stefano Boeri Architetti

Partner: Stefano Boeri, Yibo Xu, Pietro Chiodi, Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Marco Giorgio

Design Team: Cecilia Picello (Project Director), Mohamed Hassan Elgendy, Xu Lyubao

Consultants: Matheus Cartocci (Eastern philosophy); Laura Gatti (botanical expert)

All images courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti.

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