Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bhutanese architecture, similar to Thoman architecture, found by Ana in El Paso

As we know from Distant Cousin, Ana spent many years studying Earth from the moon. The quality of that study improved by several orders of magnitude following the advent of the internet, when it became possible for her to receive images, video clips, and movies from Earth. She was particularly astonished to discover the architecture of the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, half the size of Massachusetts, tucked away high in the Himalayas between India and China.
The larger Bhutanese buildings (see the photos above)--monasteries, temples, and official structures--were not that different from the buildings her ancestors erected long ago on the planet Thomo. After further study she was able to hypothesize why this should be, despite the unlikelihood of there having been any direct influence on her Earthly Proto-Indo European ancestors. Both Bhutanese and Thoman buildings are found in mountainous, lonely, hostile areas. In Bhutan, other people were the danger; on Thomo, the native wildlife was the threat. Both areas are seismically active. Thus in both cases, the walls of buildings were tall and immensely thick at the bottom and tapered toward the top. Arches and doorways were not curved, but squared off. And Ana instantly recognized the purpose of rooftop structures of Bhutanese buildings: they are watch towers, just as on Thomo.

So imagine Ana's surprise to discover, not long after she settled down in southern New Mexico, Bhutanese-style buildings not fifty miles from her, lots of them! The buildings of the University of Texas at El Paso have been built in that style for nearly a century! The reason is well known to people who live there. When the University was just beginning and the buildings being planned, the wife of a university (then a college) official noticed an article on Bhutan in National Geographic. The Bhutanese buildings perfectly suited the harsh, rocky mountains they were in, and the mountains in El Paso looked much the same. She suggested that style to the architects. The rest is history.

The photos below show some of the original buildings at UTEP and then a number of modern interpretations. The style has become famous. Some off-campus buildings now use the style, including a mall. The campus was even visited by a Bhutanese prince!

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