The Innovative Stūpa Project in Andalusia, Spain: A Discussion on Visual Representations of Tibetan Buddhist Art in Europe
Stūpas are among the most characteristic and widespread visual representations of Buddhism symbolising the mind of the Buddha (dharmakāya). They have been built in Asia for more than 2500 years and over the past decades also in many other countries around the world. One of the largest stūpas in the Western world is situated in Spain, at the Costa del Sol in Andalusia highlighting the integration of Buddhism in Europe. The 108 ft. (33m) accessible monument provides space for public lectures on Buddhism. It hosts exhibitions, gives visitors the possibility to meditate regularly, and has thus become part of the local tourist trail. This paper identifies some key-issues which arise when such exotic monuments are transplanted to a new cultural context. When a stūpa is transferred to Europe is it likely that its architecture, its traditional meaning and religious significance remains the same? What about local new interpretations and sustainable construction innovations? This paper argues that a stūpa is a visual representation of timeless Buddhist values which may support specific needs in contemporary society. Furthermore, it aims to provide a fresh perspective into how cultural and religious transmissions take place.