Located on the highest hill of the Thumki village, in the eastern foothills of the Himalayas, the Memorial to the Magar Ancestors is located in an ancient burial ground surrounded by the growing fields of a newly-established sustainable agricultural education center.

Using symbolism derived from regional burial customs — in which mourners carry stones up the hill to create burial tombs — our team of students created a place of communal reflection where village shamans could also conduct ceremonies.

The over 2m tall stone walls surround a 2x1m opening in the earth, edged with standing stones — symbolizing the sea of souls — and covered by laminated glass. The glass connects the reflected sky above with the earth visible beneath it.

Spirit of Place 2011 -



Travis Price Architects

Aalto university MA Spatial Design student

Namje-Thumki, Nepal 2011

”The sea of souls churns while dancing around mortal woes... tipping time's ancestral future.. here is there, and there again... embracing the unspoken knowing.”

Founded in 1993 by American Architect and educator, Travis Price,

Spirit of Place-Spirit of Design is an international design-build education with a cultural exchange curriculum. SOP teaches students to design architecture that responds to the poetic specificity of the culture, mythology, and the ecology of place. For over 20 years, Spirit of Place has been invited by project patrons in a host country to create a ‘legacy marker’ that revitalizes a unique aspect of historic culture celebrating the spirit of place. Projects have taken place in diverse urban and remote locations in Peru, Canada, U.S, Ireland, Nepal, Italy, Colombia and Finland.


The story of the place is reflected in an emerging piece of modern architecture. As an innovative methodology blending design education and practice, such work encourages emerging architects to design architecture that responds poetically to the specifics of culture, ecology and the ‘spirit of place.’ This bodes well for their 21st century architectural challenge and the emerging global economy.

During the design process, students develop metaphoric designs based upon the specific culture and mythology of each place, expressed in a modern idiom, and in a variety of media. The students create their own poetic and sculptural interpretations. From these poetic sculptures they further refine the project into detailed architectural models: both physical and in electronic media, as well as in working construction drawings.


Spirit of Place 2010 - kalevalakehto




Travis Price Architects 

Aalto university MA Spatial Design student

Seurasaari, Finland 2010

Photos and drawings: Travis Price Architects

”Swirling air and legs alight... the eggs open, spilling out the mystery of creation... launching windswept vessels transporting the sage song-weaver Väinämöinen... always to be rekindled... recreated in Sampo's fiery light, washed upon shores...”

Kalevalakehto was the result of our international exchange between Finnish and American students of design and architecture. We designed Kalevalakehto during a 9-day intensive charette held at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, DC in January 2010, and constructed it in Helsinki over 9 days in late August 2010.

The design of the installation was inspired by the themes of the Finnish epic Kalevala: the myth of the 7 eggs of the world’s creation, the mysteries of the Sampo as a metaphor for creativity and innovation, and the shape-shifting shamanic character of Väinämöinen, the main character of the Kalevala. Located on Seurasaari, an island near the city center which serves as a nature reserve, and open-air museum of historic wood architecture, the installation functions as a “think tank,” a meeting place for reflection and creative dialogue


”Molten Mountains seed the Sun-woven Silhouette, Water shimmers audible light, The Mhuysqa Reborn”

The Offering at Lake Guatavita - A Sacred Shrine for the Mhuysqa - Colombia.

Somewhere between the Male-Juaica (where the sun touches the earth) & the Female-Mahui (where the water is born).

Designed in 3 months, built in 9 days, 20 students & 8 Colombians for the Mhuysqa Tribe.

Spirit of Place 2016 -



Travis Price Architects

Junior Designer

Organizmo, Colombia 2016

Photos: Ken Wyner, Travis Price Architects