Creating Cities of Sanity: Using the Mandala Principle as a Urban Planning Tool

Authors: Guillermo Estrada-Rivera*, Naropa University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Religion
Keywords: Urban Studies, Buddhism, Mandala, Gentrification, Topophilia, Buddhist Studies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Studio 9, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research parts from the premise that aspects from "Urban" and "Buddhist Studies" can inform each other. The intention of creating functional systems within cities points to a goal of connection and efficiency. This interconnection can be studied from the Buddhist perspective using the "mandala principle". The mandala is usually recognized as a symbol that recreates cosmological and ecological systems within Buddhist and Hindu cultures. These symbols point towards an idea of synchronicity that can be used to work with city management. The methodology of this research is based on the integration of social and religious commentary with qualitative sources. This multidisciplinary approach explores subjects that relate to concepts specifically associated with the "Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism". The mandala principle is used as a lens to study the emergence of a city and its functional development in relation to the human perception of it. The integration of the mandala in Urban Studies is possible through "Yi-Fu Tuan's" concept of "Topophilia". This concept of topophilia relates to the emotional value and the perception of space; a perception that varies with instances of "gentrification" and "urban revitalization". The inclusion of the Buddhist mandala provides a different vocabulary and perspective on how the development of urban spaces can be perceived and how that perception can be transformed. The research concludes with a suggested new perspective on how to approach city planning based on a horizontal or flat model inspired by the mandala instead of a hierarchical one.

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