NATIONAL CEREMONIAL PLAZA

Thimphu, Bhutan

The National Ceremonial Plaza is an extension of the ancient fortress monastery, the Trashichhoe Dzong, where the northern wall had been reconstructed after an earthquake. The Trashichhoe Dzong is the iconic center of Bhutanese culture and institutions.

From the year 2000 His Majesty, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, initiated a process of transition from a very popular Monarchy into a Constitutional Democracy. In 2007 he abdicated his throne installing his son, Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, to be the new King, and declared Bhutan to be a constitutional democracy. A new era emerged, catalyzing modernization, while cherishing a unique culture.

The National Ceremonial Plaza became the iconic symbol of this historic transition with the coronation of the new king and the inauguration of the first elected Prime Minister within its precinct.  This facility brought national ceremonies and rituals from within the cloistered fortress monastery out to the people of Bhutan.

Locally known as the Tsechu Ground, because of the annual Buddhist  ‘Tsechu,’ or traditional music and dance festival held here, this national public space is the central gathering place for the nation’s people, royalty, religious leaders and officials to celebrate national events.

Construction occurred through an indigenous craft culture, guided in its form and structure by over-all dimensions and directions for locating motifs and iconography. Using Dolep granite stone slabs, Blue Pine wood, brass hardware and tin roof sheets the plaza emerged, with hundreds of craftspeople participating. The Blue Pine columns and beams crack as they dry, necessitating lamination with local linen cloth, applying the sap of the Blue Pine trees, and painting it in bright colors, applying local symbols and motifs.

This amphitheater-like facility focuses on tiered wooden carved balconies where the chief abbot of Bhutan, the Je Khenpo, the royal family, elected ministers and honored guests observe events of national importance. From these balconies a large stone, stepped plaza, integrating with the hills, spreads out to seat 25,000 participants. Green rooms with sanitary facilities for dancers and musicians, public sanitary facilities, large wooden tea pavilions and controlled entry points structure the composition. A central dance and performance arena accommodates several hundred musicians and dancers.

Festivals often begin in darkness, eventually welcoming the morning sun. Three hundred and fifty embedded LED blue lighting fixtures are set into the flooring and steps, to greet the dawn, as the valley awaits the early rays of the rising sun.

The National Ceremonial Plaza is the focal public domain of the Bhutanese Kingdom, a national icon for its citizens and a functional facility to accommodate religious and secular events of national importance, binding people together into a common ethos.

 

LocationThimphu, Bhutan

Built Up Area6,203 Square Meters

Site Area300 Acres

Completion2008

Client

Royal Government of Bhutan

 

 

 

Prime Contractor

Lhozang Construction, Bhutan

Services

Structural Design : J+W Consultants, Pune

Landscape Design : CCBA, Thimphu

MEP Design : Abid Hussain Consultants, New Delhi

 

Photos

Ramprasad Akkisetti and Deepak Kaw

 

Design Team

Prof. Christopher BenningerDeepak Kaw, Rahul Sathe, Mangesh Puranik, and Bhagyashree Soni

Awards