The Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace, Lumbini, Nepal

Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace Lumbini nepal, from Mayadevi siteUnbeknown to many, the birthplace of the Buddha is, in fact, a mostly unheard of place called Lumbini in province number 5, Nepal. It borders Gandaki Pradesh and Karnali Pradesh to the north, Sudurpashchim Pradesh to the west, and Uttar Pradesh of India to the south.

In recent months, soil has been broken in Lumbini, kickstarting the beginning of the ambitious Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace to mark the place where the Buddha took birth under a bodhi tree. Currently, just a simple Maya Devi temple to the south of the 3km by 1km urban plan by famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and a dharma chakra wheel designed by Sitec Studio indicate the historic importance of the site. The dharma chakra wheel marks the spiritual centre of the future Mahasiddha Sanctuary.

Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace Lumbini Nepal , ceremony

The Sanctuary will measure 45m high and 80m in diameter and will contain a Grand Hall to accommodate more than 1000 persons for ceremonies and gatherings in the name of peace. At the top of the building is a planned Sanctuary Hall with a statue depicting Maya Devi giving birth to the Buddha. The Sanctuary will also house a museum, library and vegetarian restaurant.

Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace, Lumbini, Nepal 06

Also on the site will be a separate monastery including monk and retreat accommodation and an MEVP building.

190725 Architectural FT(Rev. A)_Moment URBAN120190114 locationB development Programmatic SketchBert Bulthuis of Sitec Studio Hong Kong is the lead coordinating architect for this ambitious project coordinating architectural and spiritual discourse between the client, H.E. Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, the building committee, architects KplusK associates and consultants — the Beijing-based BIAD, and Kuala Lumpur-based JRP and Arcadis among them at venues across the Asia-Pacific region.

Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace, Lumbini, Nepal 03Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace, Lumbini, Nepal 02Mahasiddha Sanctuary for Universal Peace, Lumbini, Nepal 00

Shaping the Central Harbourfront of Hong Kong

By Bert Bulthuis

The Hong Kong harbourfront is a well-known and important place for most citizens of Hong Kong. It is obvious that in recent years some major changes have taken place to make the waterfront more accessible.

In fact, the park at Tamar has become a much used public space and further plans are underway to connect the Central waterfront to that of Wan Chai.  A 2011 masterplan study of the HK SAR Government gives future perspective on this area between the Central Ferry Piers and the Wan Chai Convention Center. As a citizen of Hong Kong I have enjoyed this upgraded accessibility a lot, which has extended my ambles to the Sun Yat Sen Park in Sai Ying Pun and, hopefully at a later stage, on to Kennedy Town.

One of the core locations within the waterfront development is the area between Statue Square and Jardine House to the south, the IFC to the west and the ferry piers to the north, now known as, ‘Location 3’.

Figuur1Location 3

The Location 3 lot includes the Central Post Office and the car park at Connaught Road Central, both of which will be demolished, according to the development brief of the government. While the Central Post Office is not a monument, it is very much a valued part of the Hong Kong collective memory. The five-storey building was erected in 1976 to replace Hong Kong Post’s previous Edwardian-era headquarters at the junction of Des Voeux Road Central and Pedder Street. Though less of a ‘wow’ building than its predecessor, its high ceilings and airy spaciousnedss make it a rarity here. People’s love of the building has activated this faction to strive for the integration of the old building within the new rather than erasing the past altogether. My personal opinion is that it would be wonderful to integrate the Central Post Office because mixing the old with the new provides a city with more ‘time-layers’, and as such, a city becomes more diverse and interesting.

20180619_124713Central Post Office at the edge of Location 3

20180619_124634Empty space at Location 3

To integrate or not to integrate was one of the talking points at the ULI (Urban Land Institute) Asia Pacific and ULI Hong Kong-organized summit from 5-7 June, when, on the last day of the summit, a closed workshop was organized on the development of Location 3. The main objective was to brainstorm on the development process and come up with recommendations to the Government on how to add a clearer benchmark of quality to the development brief. This involved looking at different mechanisms for the land tender to trigger the highest guarantees for urban and architectural quality.

The Dutch Chamber received an invitation to participate in the high profile symposium and Muriel Moorrees, General Manager of the Dutch Chamber, proposed me to be present among the group of urban planners, real estate developers, project managers and representatives of official organisations such as the Chambers of Commerce.

20180607_122751Tom Murphy: Case Studies

The Hong Kong workshop took place at the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central and counted some 45 attendees. City planners, real estate developers, project managers and architects from all over the world were present at the informal yet professional event. Following in-depth introductions on the location by David Faulkner of Colliers International and a presentation of global case studies by Tom Murphy of ULI Washington, the general planning brief of Location 3 was discussed among the group as a whole. Two of the main conclusions of the case studies were generally accepted by the group. The first was that adding an incentive system for quality public space within the development would be a great tool to guarantee urban quality (Case study, Hudson Yards, New York).

Hudson-Yards-RenderingHudson Yards, New York

The second conclusion was that using a Master Plan Framework (MPF) would be beneficial. That is, a framework in which all the potentials of the location would be intensely researched and described before any bidding process were to take place (Case study, Barangaroo, Sydney). This would establish a quality benchmark before the bidding, as well as a tool for developers to create a design and bid, perfectly suited to the high potential location. The public consultation is best begun while the MPF is underway.

Barangaroo2Barangaroo, Sydney

Four panels were formed to deliver specific recommendations for the location and the process. As an architect and representative of the Dutch Chamber, I was assigned to the group guiding principles for design and development. The discussion was lively and we came up with some possible additions to the development brief, aimed to guarantee greater urban and architectural quality from the outset. These included:

– Specifying the public access and amenity requirements, thus defining an open space goal and guarantee of public access.

The quality of public space is very important in city building and particularly so in a space such as Hong Kong. My firm, Sitec Studio is a big advocate of the design of public space as a context for buildings, and, only then, the design of public space as part of a building (for instance, the IFC).  I would prefer the location to be cut in two or three parts and organised around designed public space. However this is not the perspective of the developers of Location 3 who prefer a ‘one-location approach’.

– Specifying mixed use requirements to include hotels and serviced apartments.

Mixed use of the location will guarantee 24-hour city activity and ensure that the area  really be part of the city.

Requiring that the process looks beyond the lines of the exact location to guarantee great connectivity to the rest of the harbourfront and adjoining properties.

A city’s quality depends on the whole fabric in which a development can play a connective part.

– Developing a bonus system/incentive system to promote public amenities including social housing.

This mechanism would create additional value to the development, streaming a small part of the profit back into improving the city’s quality of life including building much needed social housing and special needs group housing  in other areas of Hong Kong.

– Creating an incentive to the developer on sustainability measures including seawater cooling.

A high level of sustainability is the basis, though the aim should be for maximum circularity and sustainability. By creating an incentive for this aim, we hope to create a beautiful example of sustainability and circularity in the heart of the city.

The recommendations of the four groups were shared among all attendees and will shortly be summarized and published by the Urban Land Institute Hong Kong.

The June summit was a worthwhile discussion of a high profile location with specialists from around the world giving their input to the HK SAR government. Together we will be able to say that we built this city.


Bert Bulthuis is the founder and chief architect at Sitec Studio Hong Kong and member of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong.





Hof van Thorbecke

Sitec Studio is currently working on the Hof van Thorbecke, an urban design project of 24 apartments and two houses in Zwolle, The Netherlands. The project is situated on a prime location along the Thorbeckegracht canal, Friesewal and Kanonsteeg.

urban plan

The Urban plan creates a natural connection between the Kraanbolwerk development and the historical city fabric.HF6hf3

Hof van Thorcke urban plan 05


Hof van Thorbecke , residential complex , Sitec Studio Architecture

The strength of the fabric and the mix of architecture from different centuries is an important characteristic of Dutch historical inner cities.

Studio SITEC is a strong advocate of the preservation of this fabric. But at the same time, we work with modern contextual architecture to maintain the dynamics of these inner cities.

Where the original fabric is lost, a careful reconstruction is advised; and where there is no historical fabric, a careful contextual insert is supplied. The latter is the basic idea for our urban insert in this specific location.

Around a newly created square, we are developing three different architectural buildings. Each has its own style and this creates a family of objects around the square: different but still related.  This style is also developed on the outer boundaries of the plan to create contextual architecture, both in architecture and building program. The existing monument building remains intact and has been incorporated into a plan which honors the historicity of the building and its surroundings.

The building stage has recently begun and the piling finished. Because of the  vulnerability of the surrounding historical buildings, a special less invasive technique has been used (mortar screw piles). The basement of the apartments along the Thorbeckegracht is under construction.







We at Sitec Studio wish for everybody on this planet to stay safe from the Corona virus.

At the same time we are still  keeping you up to date with our current  projects and reference the things afoot in the fields of architecture, urban design and interiors in the midst of social distancing,  Zoom meetings and good family time.

Stay safe and hug your loved ones!

— Bert Bulthuis, Principal architect, Sitec Studio, 2021