University : American University in Dubai
Tutor(s) : Dr Anna Cornaro
Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala, India.
Functionality: Community Welfare, Education, Cultural, and Recreation Center.
Project Size: 18,100 sqm
Any societal problem cannot be solved solely through architecture. However, offering a proper platform with facilities directly related to the community’s needs could function as a catalyst or a tool for resolving those problems. For more than half a century, the Tibetan community in exile has come across and faced phases of struggles throughout generations; challenges of cultural oppression, displacement, disconnection from one’s own culture, lack of cultural representation, freedom of movement, and most importantly, cultural identity. While we believe in there still being hope for freedom, the Tibetan community in exile should perceive their home, away from home, as a place of growth and inspiration. Through my project, I intend to not only provide platforms supporting cultural preservation and representation but simultaneously encourage both Indian and Tibetan cultures to grow and learn from one another. The Tibetan community and their culture have a lot to offer to the world’s growth. Their compassionate and non-violent culture has demonstrated to the world community that there is another way to live, one that is in sync with human nature and respects humanity’s essential oneness.
What is Tibet? Where is Tibet? Locating countries on a map is not easy, especially in the case of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Is it a part of China? Is it a country on its own? and the list goes on. The basis of this research originally stemmed from my interest in the livelihood of the Tibetan Community in Exile within India but at the same time, from a worry about their economic front and opportunities outside their community. The early Tibetan exiles’ survival, the gradual reconstruction of their life, and the re-establishment of their cultural and religious institutions in exile, all contribute to my interest in further researching and executing solutions for the community in exile.
The intentional plan to eradicate the Tibetan culture, religion, and language has spread, as has the Tibetan people’s core identity. Thousands of people fled their home nation, following in the footsteps of their leader, H.H the 14th Dalai Lama, seeking to practice their culture in exile. There is no consensus on the precise number of Tibetan refugees in India, however, it is generally speculated that the figure exceeds 100,000. As per the UNHCR,
“India harbored around 110,000 Tibetan refugees as of the end of 2001.”
According to the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, “There are an estimated 121,143 Tibetan refugees, who are mostly harbored in depths of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Mysore, Karnataka.” (Routray,2007). There are various estimates of the number of Tibetans who enter India each year. According to the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, “the number of Tibetan refugees in India fluctuates due to the arrival of more than 1,000 Tibetan refugees each year and the repatriation of an unknown number to Tibet.” According to a 2004 news article, 1,800 to 3,000 Tibetans escape Tibet each year, with the majority of them making their way to Dharamsala (U.S Committee, 2001).
The aim of this research is to further examine and identify the problems and challenges the Tibetan community in exile has been tackling since their migration from Tibet to neighboring and outside countries. My family background, books, and articles will help me analyze and rummage through different possibilities to provide for the community.