An eyesore

I’m in Trongsa. Will visit the Dzong, and meet with sector heads and members of the new local government, before heading to Bumthang.

As we approached Wangdiphograng yesterday, I could see the new Bajo town on the other side of the Punatshangchhu. And for the hundredth time, I looked across the river and muttered: UGLY.

Neighboring Punakha’s town in Khuruthang is widely regarded as a mistake – an ungainly concrete jungle devoid of any Bhutanese charm or character. But the town, which was built more than a decade ago, gave us one very important lesson: how not to build our towns!

Bajothang shows that we haven’t learnt from our mistakes. The new town, which is located along the Punatshangchhu, among paddy fields and just below the Wangdue Dzong, is a bigger mistake, an eyesore.


How not to build a town


Facebook Comments:


  1. I fully concur with OL’s view that Bajo town is more than an eyesore. It is a showpiece for bad design and a typical case of cut and paste architectural drawing. There is no creativity involved in designing such township. It indeed looks so ugly that i refuse to stare at it whenever i travel through the place.

    My only wish and hope is that such township is not replicated elsewhere; i hope Ministry of works and Human settlement has learnt a lesson not to plan and build such ugly structures.

  2. The government has been sending our urban planners and architects in third countries for higher studies.Now we can see the results of how effectively they could have used their time there.Government must call all the agencies involved in the town planning and construction of ugly towns for explanation. Government also should devise a mechanism that the people sent for the higher studies do what they are sent for.
    If we let continue the same trends of complacency,our generation will and have to pass the ugly town of concrete jungle to future generation..which will be a big shame

  3. Looks like an army camp.

  4. I agree fully with OL’s views on the new Bajo township. It is what everyone would call a concrete jungle, an ugly one at that.

    Our urban planners need to be given a good kick up their back sides for coming up with such a badly planned urban center and Lyonpo Yeshi Zimba has to take the ultimate blame for allowing such a monstrosity to come up, that too after supposedly learning from our past mistakes.

  5. we Bhutanese love concrete since we got out of jungles and the urban planners are in the forefront. God Bless Bhutan!

  6. This is indeed the sad story of all urban development in Bhutan – no aesthetics, no green spaces, no recreational spaces, just monotonous lanes of congested identical concrete blocks. Are they deliberately designed to ward off evil eyes or rural-urban migration, I wonder?

  7. May be Ex-Lyonpo Kunzang is responsible for this careless and ugly town.

    It already looks like an ugly town in India.

    Why can’t our leaders be a little more creative and a little more responsible? Why don’t they spend some time thinking seriously about our future. What kind of a country will Bhutan be in next 10 years?

    This is so against our vision of a GNH society. So against our policy of unique culture and tradition. So against the image of “Beautiful Bhutan.”

    Will our leaders ever do as they say?

  8. I could not agree more with everyone here and with the OL about the eyesore town of Bajo. Sad a million times. We never learn our lesson.Once bitten twice shy, will we make that mistake again. Many townships are in pipeline and will our government let the towns to be built in this manner again. I hope not. who is in-charge and who is responsible. MoWHS or some relevant concerned department should look into this more strictly or else we never learn and the ugly scenario will go on.

  9. You are really good at finding faults. You need to change your attitude if u want to be an MP after 2013

  10. If it is Lyonpo Kinzang that was responsible for this horrible town, then I offer my profound apologies to Lyonpo Zimba.

  11. I would differ that it is due to the architects being sent to third world countries for training but I do agree its ugly. Its a result of laziness. The government and planners never had any dreams for the town then. It seems. What is so great about Thimphu town as well? Apart from the amenities and municipal infrastructure. Soul less, characterless ugly concrete buildings every where, with imitations of ancient traditional architecture. Why did people have to consider vertical expansion when there is ample of space for horizontal expansion. I’ve always dreamed of the out skirts of thimphu to be made of wood, earth and stone. Of course incorporating modern building materials. The houses would look more original and soulful. More over earth, stone and timber are renewable resources. But again, how can we blame people. The cost of timber and stone is very expensive compared to concrete and bricks.

    I personally thought mitsina would be a great location for a town that would cater to both Punakha and Wangdi with ample of expansion space. Punakha and will always remain a small town, like a step child and will only make thimphu grow bigger.

  12. Is a clustered town really a necessity in Bhutan is my humble view.

    The clustered townships are eating away either the paddy fields or the forestland. For Bhutan’s scenic beauti, I feel our development should be in a scatered design. Never let people build clustered and high buildings. Let them build traditional two storeyed buildings in scatered spaces. Even the business activities; shops, service workshops, etc to be allocated scatered spaces. These way, greening and cleaning of the environment will be simple. Individual housholds can be made responsible for their own sewerage and sanitation.

    I do not believe in “not enough space” for human settlement in Bhutan given our population and its growth rate. It is the plannign and implementation of plans that is lacking.


    what happened to our beautiful architectures and nature surrounding it??? this town could have been very beautiful than this if it was planned properly and respected our unique architecture. (just my view)

  14. Dawa Dakpa says

    This Bajo town looks more like a concrete dungs by grazing planners and architects.. When a tourist sees this they think, Bhutan has lost its authenticity and the uniqueness.. The town planning is copied from west where their is less land like Singapore, Taiwan or Hongkong and pasted here in Bajo.. Come on!! We are unique, we are what we are in a different way.. This now already done.. Hope this doesn’t happen in future at other places!!

  15. ajang_Tawjey says

    @penjor ….what about your attitude??? though you point other with your index finger…other fingers are still pointing towards yourself by that comment…..

  16. I agree with OL’s views.Our architects are still sleeping and not working. They should be terminated without benefits. I found they do cut and paste job. In any Town planning there should be plantation of trees, recreational center, swimming pool,good departmental stores and so on. Even i find in Thimphu(Changjiji complex) the planning is not done properly.Better BBS should carry out LIVE panel discussion.

  17. unforgiven says

    Can’t agree more with you on this one. To be fair, this is a combined creation of Lyonpo Leki (for the choice of site), Lyonpo KInzang (for not planning properly) and Lyonpo Zimba for the very shoddy execution of the plan and construction. Sorry to say this, but the same group is responsible for all the ugly structures we have every where.

  18. Hi,
    i think it would be fair to reflect on the kind of (case) studies that architects and urban planners are undertaking, not only on the number of degrees that are beeing achieved.
    There are many ways of designing new settlements and buildings, many priorities can be taken into consideration.
    When you look at this urban layout you can see that every lot (therefore every owner and the municipality) has taken full advantage of the volume allowance. A lot of built spaces (shops, offices, apartments) on as little land as physically possible. Having a more ‘friendly’ (and bhutanese looking) urban landscape would require a more disperse settlement pattern, greater distances to be covered to reach community services, less floors or less covered surface per each lot. (and I am not even mentioning different materials and construction methods)
    The cup is never completely full and we can either look into either one of the two halves (the empty and the full) and be unhappy or consider the whole picture and learn the lesson for the future either choosing different settlement patterns more suitable to the bhutanese landscape. An option could be choosing learning opportunities for architects and planners where ‘the grid’ is not the only option for urban layout. Another option would be compromising productivity and income generation for the sake of landscape design and cultural appropriatedness.
    But this is of course just my personal point of view and I am sure it’s a lot more complicated then this.

  19. More ugly – drive down the express way beyond chang jiji – there is a shopping complex coming up that is enshrined in glass. Azaii what a structure. It is neither here nor there in the architecture scenario. I sympathize with the builders as they did a good job but I shun the architect who came up with such a design for making it a horrible building. Who are we trying to copy, where are we trying to go and why has city approved of such a shopping complex. yes, understandably we need such big buildings and shopping complexes but the glass face and the concrete blend is horrible. The MOIC building and some others are like that too. A reminder to the government that we as Bhutanese need to shine from inside and not from outside. A mistake in the lad of GNH mena la.

  20. What is Ugly about the town?
    I find it so beautiful, hundred times better than Thimphu… it looks like a palace from across the river…
    Restriction on the design (all building used one drawing) left no room for creativity but still people did magic with colors.
    IF Bajo is an eyesore than what can we say about Thimphu?

  21. our architects & planners are busy making attic rule where their mission & vission ends at 6 feet above the roof slab. but every house in thimphu breaks the rule…. so how can they be responsible for planning such big towns. they are fit for making attic rules.our professionals they go abroad to advanced nations and come back & learn to hide thiir head behind some one and never take the lead ofcourse the blame game….. bajo thang, olaakha… it will continue everywhere now the trend has been set…………………….let be the bajo architecture & planning be a part of the acheivement of all

  22. I saw the new town for the first time a few months ago. I was shocked and almost cried. What a disaster!

  23. It is a very good place where the army can practice urban warfare.

Leave a Reply to Tshewang Cancel reply