The Bamiyan Valley wishes to develop a cultural center which will take place on the plateau of Chawni Hill neighboring an Afghan National Police Station, a Television Station and the cultural Heritage Department.
This location is characterized by its strong history, as well as esthetic and symbolic aspects which lead us to design a building between all these backgrounds. The topography of the site and its frontal position with the montains, are an opportunity to catch incredible and diverse views of this historical heritage. Our guideline is to offer an overview on the Western Buddha’s niches but also to allow this building to remain with a very precise and minimal impact from these niches.
So, following this idea of discretion and respect with the existing site, the cultural center appears to us as a continuity with the landscape. The building which takes place on the top of the edge of this plateau is at the same time hidden in the ground to reduce all visible impacts, but also designed to provide a complete visibility on the landscape. Regarding the formal aspects, a simple and panoramic volume is located along the ground slabs of South-West and North-West whereas five transversal volumes are placed in the reverse direction to catch several choosen points of view on the landscape. These volumes with roof terraces are visible from the Western Buddha’niches but they are conceived as mirrors to reflect the mountains as well.
From the outside, the Cultural Center has not been imagined as an autoritary building with huge volumetries and technical overbid but rather more as a local and vernacular architecture for a singular project. Furthermore, in term of materiality, historical roots are also important for us. It is for this reason that we choose naturally the brick as a local material which also reminds the shades of the site. The project benefits from a work of light by creating direct and indirect light variations depending of the programs. A game of openwork bricks allows to receive indirect and singular lights.Visitors can enter in the building from the South by a pedestrian walkway which begins at the main entrance of the site or at the bus area.
On the roof of the building, pedestrian visitors could find the shady terrace of the tea house and can enter by this way, without exhibition ticket.The staircase invite the people to go down to the entrance of the building. From this gate, the visitors are led in the other spaces such as the public museum and the public performance hall. Then, a corridor allows to guide them to the classrooms, the research center, the workshop studios and to the administration.Some patios provide natural light to this circulation area and are also created as privileged meeting places for exchanges for all the people like researchers, students, bamiyan cultural center workers, visitors… These meeting points are crucial in our project in order to allow people to share their ideas and at the same time to reunite all the programs together.