Bhutanese architecture is a significant feature of the Bhutanese identity. Traditional shapes, colors and patterns are universally applied to all forms of buildings, which are also usually decorated with various religious patterns and animals. The best examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture can be seen in Dongs (fortresses), Lhakhangs (temples), monasteries, shortens, palaces and bridges.
Following are the brief description of types of architecture in Bhutan
The Driglam Namzha codifies the traditional rules for the construction of the dzongs as well as ordinary buildings. Under the direction of an inspired lama the fortress is constructed by citizens who historically participated as part of their tax obligation to the state. Modernly, however, traditional structures are built by wage laborers, straining the government’s ability to repair and preserve dzongs in particular.
Traditional architecture remains alive in Bhutan. As recently as 1998, by royal decree, all buildings must be constructed with multi-coloured wood frontages, small arched windows, and sloping roofs. Traditional western Bhutanese structures are often made from wooden frames earthen material, namely wattle and daub interior walls, rammed earth exterior walls, and stone and earth retaining walls. No plans are drawn up, nor are nails or iron bars allowed in the construction. Many traditional structures feature swastikasand phallic paintings.
Bhutanese dzong architecture reached its zenith in the 17th century under the leadership of the great lama Ngawang Namgyal, theZhabdrung Rinpoche. The Zhabdrung relied on visions and omens to site each of the dzongs. Modern military strategists would observe that the dzongs are well-sited with regard to their function as defensive fortresses. Dzongs were frequently built on a hilltop or mountain spur, or adjacent to important streams.
Buddhist temples (lakhang) in Bhutan are often relatively simple single-story structures surrounding a courtyard. Most also feature high thresholds. They are often adorned with a red stripe along the upper walls, and gilded copper roofs. There is sometimes an antechamber at the entry
Mountainous Bhutan has always relied on bridges for travel across its many steep ravines and rushing rivers prone to disastrous flooding. The most traditional bridges of Bhutan are its cantilever bridges, however the kingdom also has several large suspension bridges.
Bhutanese cantilever bridges are aggregations of massive, interlocking wooden structures that form a single bridge. These ancient bridges have supported centuries of human, animal, and increasingly industrial traffic.