Ramagrama, 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).
A place that 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.
Several organizations and Buddhist communities have committed themselves to the 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).
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 – aims to enhance the role of Ramagrama both as an archaeological site and as a place for prayer, meditation and peace.
Stefano Boeri Architetti’s project develops 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.
In line with Stefano Boeri Architetti’s design philosophy of new harmony between living nature and architecture, the masterplan includes a central element – the ‘Peace Meadow’ – 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, 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.
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’s project is also a homage to the work of Kenzo Tange, author of the masterplan and project for the Lumbini Museum in 1978. The new center for prayer, meditation and peace will be built using local materials, aimed at reducing the environmental impact, while calling to mind the local production of bricks and enhancing the site’s architectural tradition. Source by Stefano Boeri Architetti.
Location: Ramagrama, Nepal
Architect: 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)
Images: Courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti