Joshua Fowler here,
The following except is my initial introduction of research into the research paper I will be writing on Potala Palace for ARC 532 class:
There has been, recently, much mysticism and inquisitiveness about the large structure which towers over the city of Lhasa located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China. This structure known as Potala Palace stands as a powerful symbol of Tibet. Potala Palace also stands as a reminder of the enduring history that revolves around this magnificent structure, serving as a home, a shrine, a fortress, a pilgrimage destination, a political symbol, a museum, and so much more. This aims is to answer the questions of how the history, culture, place, and architecture of Potala Palace all relate and influence one another in order to create a greater understanding of the architecture and how it came to be, and is now.
The history and culture of this palace has shaped this structure just as much as the design, materials, and workers who constructed it. In order to truly understand the influences and considerations taken into account during the design and construction of the palace, one should look at the economic, cultural, and social history and their effects upon the design. Consideration should also be taken on the reactions of the general populace, both local and global, as well as any kind of political, philosophical, and religious statements the building was attempting to make. These considerations have changed through history and it is important to note how and why the changes have influenced the identity of Potala Palace today. Additionally, the identity of the palace also stems from the physical form and grandeur of the building. Exploration into the construction methods, building materials, structural symbols, hermeneutic-phenomenological taxonomy, programming, and various other architectural influences all aid in better understanding the architecture and how it came to be amidst its religious and social-political context.
This structure has fascinated me ever since I have seen a picture of it years ago in the beginning of my architectural endeavors. What initially intrigued me about this building was the sheer size and the notion that it was built seeming on the side of a mountain. It is, however, sitting on what could be better termed as a large hill in the middle of the Himalayan mountain range. In the brief initial research, I have found the significance this building has played in the religious and social-political history of the region which will be further explored with great interest.