The Land of Happiness... Natural Living in Bhutan



A typical Bhutanese house (right) is a three storey rammed earth structure with space for livestock on the ground floor; a grain store on the middle floor and living quarters on the top floor. Another storage space is normally kept between the top floor and the roof for drying meat and vegetables.


The windows and doors of the house are painted with motifs of flowers and animals as decorations. This is one of the patterns, No. 249, Ornament, recommended by Alexander. It makes a connection between the elements of the building and the life around them.


Dzongs (below), are fortress castles that dominate the landscape in every valley. They are constructed without architectural plans under the direction of a high lama. Dzongs are built with stone curtain walls surrounding one or more courtyards. The main internal structures are built with stone or rammed earth, whitewashed inside and out with a red ochre band at the top on the outside. The roofs are massively constructed in hardwood and bamboo, highly decorated at the eaves, and built without nails. Like the homes of Bhutan they are open at the eaves to provide a ventilated storage area.


Bhutan has a completely different approach to prosperity from the rest of the western world. The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley said, "The dogma of limitless productivity and growth in a finite world is unsustainable and unfair for future generations". At the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements he made a commitment to sustainable agriculture saying, " government has pledged to become 100% organic in food productionů"

Below kids helping to build the family rammed earth home, a Vast Bhutan project.


Bhutan is the only nation in the world that measures Gross National Happiness (GNH) while all other nations focus on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GNH was launched formally in 1972 as an economic alternative to GDP.
  Gross National Happines  

Gross National Happines







Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Bhutan


Rammed Earth Building a vast-bhutan project


Bhutanese Monks, photo by Christopher Michel


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