Cultural Centre in Bamiyan
Cultural Centre in Bamiyan

The purpose of this competition proposal for a self-sustained cultural centre is to promote heritage safe-guarding and cross-cultural awareness, and thereby contribute to the broader aims of reconciliation, peace-building and economic development in the country. The proposal consists of spaces mainly for cultural, educational and recreational events and programs.

The overall building mass is programmatically fragmented into smaller units for functional clarity and for making the scale familiar and inviting to the local community. Hierarchy and symbolic dominance by any individual building volume is avoided and the presence of the Buddha Cliff in its immediate context is honored.

Functionally related spaces are organized around individual courtyards for efficient collaboration, a concept traditionally used in Afghan architecture. By interconnecting the courtyards with each other, a dynamic communication network is created. The spaces are organized to lead the public gradually towards the World Heritage site, until panoramic views of it are provided in the spaces of greatest public use and importance.

Each courtyard has a garden for climatic and functionally specific purposes. They provide shade and moderate the microclimate. In addition to this, they bring colour to the public events and serve educational purposes in the areas of hygiene, water recycling, biological waste treatment and effective agriculture.

In order to balance the diurnal variations of heat and humidity, all interior spaces are constructed using compressed earth. This heat storing material is well available and used locally, making it economically feasible and the use of local labor possible. The shading and the openings are designed to provide natural light without generating excess heat. Natural ventilation strategy takes advantage of local winds in up- and downhill directions.

The energy concept takes advantage of the all-year-round present sun. The interiors are heated by solar heat collectors during the winter months, whereas solar photovoltaic panels provide electricity for the purposes of the Centre, the community, and the neighboring public properties.

Location:Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan
Client:UNESCO and the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan
Type and Year:Open international competition 2015
Gross Floor Area:2300 m2
Architecture:Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects
Photography:UNESCO and the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan
Visualisation:Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects