Clients: UNESCO, Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan
Status: Competition (2015)
Location: Bamyan, Afghanistan
Climate: Desert / arid, Hot
Types: Cultural, Cultural center
The proposed site for the cultural center sits atop a mountainside overlooking the rich agricultural valley and the UNESCO World Heritage-protected Buddha Cliffs of Bamiyan. From the main access road, located roughly 10 meters above the building’s main entrance, the center emerges as four identical brick volumes scattered across the rough, rocky landscape of the mountaintop. Upon descending along the main ramp into the cultural center’s forecourt, the full extent of the building is made visible – a large single story concrete and brick structure that is punctuated by four towers (two open-air and two enclosed) and three courtyards of varying proportions, each allowing for daylight and natural ventilation to permeate deep within the interior of the plan.
Its triangular shape results from a large internal entry courtyard to the south of the building and an elongated western facade, slanted toward the site’s unique panoramic view overlooking the Bamiyan valley. The public performance hall and exhibition space share this view and open onto a large secure garden along the western face. The private program – classrooms, workshops, library, and offices – are single-loaded along a hallway aligned with three interior gardens, which act both as areas of reprieve and social spaces for students, workers, visitors, and scholars alike.