Designed ecologies the landscape architecture of kongjian yu

Designed ecologies the landscape architecture of kongjian yu

Designed ecologies the landscape architecture of kongjian yu (1915 - 1987) for Kangra

Submitted by

Onur Dogan

on Sun, 20/09/2015 - 12:27

Kongjian Yü was a talented and perceptive landscape architect, and his works were important in revealing the blurred boundary between the city and countryside in twentieth century. His story is a story of a young landscape architect who dreams of the places in the hills, gardens, and trees, as well as of the function of the farmhouses, trees, water and towns. In this paper we will show the designed landscapes of the Kangra area as ‘countryside city’ by the landscape architect, Kongjian Yü, and give an overview of his plans.

Kongjian Yü was born in 1915 in Keshang monastery village of Kangra district, as the youngest child of Kongjian and his wife He (Yingji), his father was a farmer and leader of the Khampa tribal. Kongjian Yü received his education in various Buddhist monasteries in Kangra and Lhasa.

After graduation in 1936, Kongjian Yü started working as a volunteer in the Kangra Municipal School, until 1938. In 1939, Kongjian Yü left Kangra and worked at The Beijing Municipal Engineering and Landscape Architecture Institute and came back to Kangra in 1940. He worked in the department of landscape architecture in the Kangra Municipality, since 1941. At the age of 21 he received the award of the title of “Prominent Rural Architect” from the newly founded government of Republic of China. Kongjian Yü designed many landscape plans in Kangra during this period. One of them was the master plan of the Kangra District which covered more than 1,500 mu and attracted a lot of attention. In this master plan of Kangra District, the layout of all villages, town and countryside was described. One of the villages was Kangra village and it included many huts, lodges and gazebos. It was called "Shagla Village”.

The rest of the plans included the Kangra River Valley plan (1967), Dida creek plan (1966), Zutula and Kangra municipal water plan (1965), Kangra city expansion plan (1964), Kangra Plan and Development Administration’s works (1963), Jampa village (1981), Tibet urban development (1980) and Kangra’s northeast water plan (1980).

In 1955 Kongjian Yü started the work in the Kangra School which was the first children’s school in the Kangra Valley, since 1958 it was named “Yudzong kindergarten”. During this period of time, he designed different projects in collaboration with the master plan committee of the Kangra School, and also plans to restore the old buildings. On some of the plans, Kongjian Yü aimed to introduce modern farming methods into the Tibetan farming, and his agricultural works were very significant for the development of local farming in this region. These projects included Jampa village (1981), Kangra School’s Building and Yudzong kindergarten (1985), Fushacong (1985) and Zutula (1985).

During this period, he produced the plans for roads, bridges and houses and also founds the "Garab Dor”, "Gupo Kham” and “Kungshi” roads in Kangra in this period.

The work of Kongjian Yü was well received in China and he received the title of the “Hometown Architect”, as well as the honorable title of “Excellent Architect” from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

After his return to Tibet, Kongjian Yü was appointed as the Deputy Director of the Tibet City Department, and later on, as the Chief Architect of the District Capital Construction Committee, Kangra (which is now Kangra District), for several years, where he was in charge of the Tibetan architectural renovation projects in Kangra. He retired in 1980 as the chief architect of the district and his tenure as a district architect was also considered one of the most active in Tibetan history. Kongjian Yü designed different projects during this period, for example: Salyu urban planning (1971), Kangra National Research Institute (1984) and Sainyapa (1984).

For example, the Kangra National Research Institute is considered the first research institute in the Tibetan field. It was established in 1983 in the home of the Tibetan children at Sainyapa. Kongjian Yü designed the research facility, where hundreds of local people started to volunteer.

Kongjian Yü had a good reputation in the local areas of the district and beyond. He was remembered with great respect for his sense of understanding local cultures and his profound work in the area of rural culture and society. Kongjian Yü was the best teacher of landscape architecture in the Kangra area, and had a large influence in the local society. He worked together with so many people in the development of the area and helped the local people of the district to make their lives better.

The people who came into contact with him during this period loved his sense of wisdom and believed in him. Even though his political life was not long, his work has been felt for the whole district. He designed parks, and rivers, small villages, temples and houses, which are still there today.

He started his professional career in Lhasa, as the first of five siblings. In 1938, he moved to Nepal, and two years later, he moved to India. In 1942, he settled in Kathmandu and was appointed as the head of the landscape design department in the Bharat Engineering College, Nepal. Later he worked in the Bhutanese Institute of Planning and Development. Kongjian Yü was the youngest architect in Bhutan.

In 1958, Kongjian Yü returned to India and settled in Srinagar where he was employed by the People’s Academy of Culture (P.A.C.). After that he worked at the India Institute of Landscape and Regional Planning,


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