The project proposal for Bamyan Cultural Center presents a new understanding of the local construction methods and usage of materials which combined together can create an innovative design. The design of the building is made not to be invasive and aims to add the volume completely into the existing landscape. This is executed by constructing the volume mostly from bricks which are made of local materials placed near the site.
The plan of the building resembles typical Afghanistan village, placed on a steep terrain, which is composed by separate but connected to each other at the same time ”houses” / exposition zone, multi-functional hall, classrooms, research center, conference hall and administration zone/. The main entrance of the building is from centralized entrance and big lobby which helps the flows of people to be distributed easily and contributes to control the access to the center as well. All requirements for internal connections are fulfilled. The storage to the exposition room is placed on the underground level and it has access not only to the expo room but to the research center and the garden as well. The storage can be reached by a truck ramp. The auxiliary rooms of the multi-functional hall are also located on the underground level.
The main ramp in the exhibition hall can be used both as an exhibition path and as a leisure zone for all the visitors when events take place in the hall. In that way the visitors will have as a background scenery the Buddha Cliff in the distance as they enjoy the performance on the scene. The design of the ramp assists to overcome the steep terrain and to accomplish a higher space in the lower part of the hall. All exhibition rooms and the performance hall faces north which contributes for the good natural sun light.
The site is enclosed by the asked in the competition rules 3m high wall. In the north part the wall plays a role of natural corrector for the terrain and in that way it is not an obstacle neither for the Buddha Cliff view, nor for the view from the city to the cultural center.
Only a small correction of the terrain has been made by digging the earth. The main motive for this is the integration of the sight to the walls in the amphitheater multi-functional hall. In its other sections the terrain is divided into three main parts – two on the upper level and one- on the lower one. In the first section approaches to the site, pedestrian paths, car parking with the possibility of expansion in the future and a small tea house with views to the surroundings are placed. The lower part can be reached by using a big ramp which overcomes the denivelation between the exhibition hall and the terrain. The ramp is designed to be used by disabled people as well. On this part of the terrain provides the deployment of a sculpture park and places of permanent exhibitions in the open.
Namely the idea of the “community” and “sharing” is laid down as a main motive in the architectural design and aims to show the locals that it is not outside of its context but on the contrary – an attraction center for the community of Bamyan. The easy connections from one part of the building to another make convenient its use for the various needs of the visitors.
In terms of facade, the displacement of the volumes, both in plan and elevations, contributes for the perception of the cultural center as a small “village”, situated on a hill. In this way the building fits naturally and becomes part of the landscape in which it is located. Provided is the use of two colors for the local brick facade – both made of different colored local materials. Double walls allow the use of old bricks from other buildings that gives an interesting vision of the completion of the walls at the same time promotes building materials recycling and imports living history into the cultural center.
Niches that are excavated into the brick walls represent a “picture” of the surroundings, made from the present location and project the niches of Buddha Cliff on the cultural center surface. In the night the niches will be lit and then a whole new picture of niches will shine on the new cultural center.
The view to the Buddha Cliff is undoubtedly the most valuable part on the terrain and it is used in its maximum as all main rooms are directed to it and in that way this view becomes part of the interior of the center. The views to the main parts of the cliffs are integrated into the main exhibition hall where 200 people can observe various performances having at the same time the cultural heritage of the city. All pedestrian spaces around the building are also designed with respect to the cliffs and without being hidden the view to them at any moment.
The building possesses a lot of sky lights, which provides both the entering of natural sun light and the ventilation of each part of the building. These skylights lead to a peculiar inner courtyards between the “village” and the “houses”. They provide a local low vegetation. Wind chimneys are being integrated as well and they will contribute for the better ventilation inside the rooms. The project foresees also placement of solar panels on each roof as they will be hidden by the high roof boards will not interfere with the overall vision of the building emerged from the field. The usage of small wind turbines is suggested in the design concept.They will be a reference to the local construction methods , used by people hundreds years ago.
High boards and the type of roof allow rainwater harvesting for the needs of the building. The structure is designed as a plain concrete, as all internal and external walls are made from local materials bricks. It is envisaged that the insulation of the walls also will be made from natural animal materials which are found in the area. In front of the facades shading elements are placed that can disable the direct access of sun light into the rooms during the hottest months and during the cold months to be open to collect natural light.
The building is a natural starting point and possesses view to all important points of cultural heritage in the area. The approach to the site is executed from the main road for cars, as the entry is being shifted slightly away from the minor road. Thus, access can be easily done through now-existing pedestrian paths starting from the market town in the lower part. Access for cars, and the entrance for trucks will be carried out by the main road from the south.
The separation of the building into several major parts eases the “addition” of new “houses” to the “village” and this easily plays the role of all necessary extensions of the cultural center in any single part of its function, without the extreme need to be done simultaneously. There are similar options for extensions to any part of the building.