John Ullman, president of the nonprofit Architecture for Tibet, recently got in touch with Tricycle about his organization’s efforts to construct an academic center in Tawang, Northeast India.

The academic center will be built as an addition to the Majushree Orphanage, which lies close to the Tibetan border and is home to 108 children, many of whom are a part of the diaspora. Solar India Solutions will engineer and install a geothermal heating system—the first green technology in the region—providing much-needed warmth in this mountainous locale.

Architecture for Tibet needs funding and support to execute its extraordinary vision. Check out the group’s website and this press release:

Press contact: Jamie Dutro


(941) 474-2494

Architecture for Tibet’s Manjushree Project:

New York City–November 15th, 2008–Architecture for Tibet, a New York City based nonprofit, formed by visionary-architect John Ullman to strengthen the Tibetan Diaspora, is embarking on its first project: an Academic Center for the Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, Northeast India. The building will provide an optimal learning environment for the orphaned, disabled and destitute children of this remote and impoverished community high in the Himalayas.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Tawang is revered, as it is the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. It is also home to the fortress-like Galden Namgyal Lhatse Monastery, whose name translates from the regional language as true celestial paradise beyond the clouds. The principle deity of the monastery is Palden Lhamo, protector of Tibet and its government. Tawang is also where His Holiness found refuge after fleeing Tibet.

Within this authentic Tibetan Buddhist setting, Architecture for Tibet intends to realize a large, thoughtfully-planned learning complex for Manjushree Orphanage, which will enable it to further develop as a community-based institution, deepening and broadening its role as a school for an ever-increasing number of children.

“We see our buildings as vessels that hold Tibetan culture and values as they wait to return to their homeland. With that said, we build solid structures that will withstand earthquakes and last 200 years,” Ullman says” as we don’t know when that day will come. Today, the need to strengthen these communities is critical.”

Lama Thupten Phunsok, the institution’s Director, says that with the establishment of the Academic Center, the children of Manjushree “will have a suitable place to hone their academic skills. The children will be taught in warm rooms, as the building is designed keeping in mind the regions harsh climate. The children will also experience a quiet library, which will provide the silence they will need for concentration. All this will happen with the ideas of John Ullman, and all who assist him with this effort. We want to express our gratitude to Architecture for Tibet for this noble initiative.”

Solar India Solutions is engineering and installing the geothermal heating system- the first “green” technology of this type in the region. “I am totally committed to serving these children,” says A. Chandra Shekhar of Solar India Solutions. “Such a spiritually motivated project gives our work real value.” In addition, the building will feature passive solar sun-spaces, for a supplemental heat source, while also flooding the building with natural light.

“We intend to be a viable organization, working in co-operation with the Central Tibetan Government’s Planning Department, which oversees the implementation of settlement development projects” Ullman says. “Tawang, Bomdilla, Tenzingang and Tezu, located within Arunachal Pradesh, will be the target areas for our future architecture projects, as these areas–as all Tibetans know–are where the refugees are most in need of new buildings and infrastructure.”

Architecture for Tibet will take on the challenging task of creatively reimagining traditional Tibetan building types, while structuring community. In this way, Architecture for Tibet’s efforts will not only provide modern living environments, but also spark new hopes within the hearts and minds of the refugees of these remote settlements.


Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

This article is only for Subscribers!

Subscribe now to read this article and get immediate access to everything else.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? .