Bamiyan Cultural Centre, Bamiyan (af)
Location: Bamiyan, Afeganistão
Promoter: UNESCO | Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan
Program: Cultural Centre
Area: 2220 m2
Architecture: Ivan de Sousa, Ines Antunes
Context and Concept
The site area for the Bamiyan Cultural Centre, a plateau with an extraordinary view toward the Buddha Cliffs from across the valley, is characterized by a relevant and undefined slope with an approximate ten meter difference.
The project seeks to redefine the slope line proposing an intervention on the limit between the two elevations.
A new construction, facing the Buddha Cliffs, emerges out of the Chawni Hill as a wall where you can live inside. By using a monolithic form and local materiality the building blends into the landscape, becoming part of it.
At the lowest elevation rises an impressive facade of mud brick with large panorama openings alternate with small windows, perceived as “holes” in the matter, framing vistas of the Buddha Cliffs and Buddha niches.
At the highest elevation, in contrast, the building is almost imperceptible to the eye, only a long belvedere terrace to contemplate the landscape is visible. The landscape, in this level, is ubiquitous like a panorama.
The building is developed in length, with two levels and an intermediate level. The entrance to the Cultural Centre will be via a “trench” in the form of a gently ramp that leads into it.
In the first floor, the reception and lobby area is located near to the main entrance. It is from it that is organized the distribution and access to the different parts:
- The performance hall adjacent to the lobby;
- A corridor provides access to the workshops studio, the classrooms, the administration offices and the conference room;
- A stair connects directly the reception with the tea house, retail store and the exhibition space, located at the ground floor;
- A ramp leads us to the research centre and library, located in an intermediate floor, and then to the exhibition space, divided in two open spaces for permanent and temporary exhibition.
- In the ground floor is also located the collection storage and the art loading area.
The building is build up from mud brick, fitting in with the surrounding environment. Various brick patterns define the unique facade of the building, reflecting the interior spaces and their programs.
The variable openings in the facade ensure appropriate natural indirect light and a great visual connection with the landscape of Bamiyan Valley.
The large-scale openings placed in the main public spaces of the building – entrance / lobby, library and exhibition space - stand out in the facade. Excavated like niches, these openings are oriented towards the West Buddha and East Buddha niches, anchoring the landscape and creating a strong effect in the interior.
In addition to the northern facade openings some roof openings and courtyards are created to provide other types of natural light.
From the Buddha Cliff the new Cultural Centre will be integrated into the landscape, creating a positive visual impact. The new building will enhance the cultural character of the Chawni Hill making it a vital centre for the Bamiyan community.
Construction Material and Methods
To facilitate the process of construction and its future maintenance as well as to involve the Bamiyan community in the construction of the Cultural Centre building was one of the aims of the proposal. The preference of typical local building materials and constructive methods has been present for us since the design process beginning.
Outdoor Spaces and Landscaping
The proposal for the outdoor spaces is divided in two areas:
At the lower level, is designed a green area with pedestrian circulation and benches in continuity with the interior exhibition space in order to create an outdoor area for displays sculptures and performances.
At the upper level, a fruit tree garden is created in continuity with the terrace roof to provide shaded areas during the summer season.
In the parking area and in the back side of the lot are previewed high trees, in continuity with the surrounding vegetation.
The connection between the two levels is also possible from outside through large exterior stairs that become places to sit down and enjoy the panoramic views.