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The Wall

Bamiyan Culture Center Competition, 2015














Competition Entry



   The name Bamiyan derives from the ancient Dari word Bamikan, the “middle roof”.

   The center is organized into a set of overlapping layers, orchestrated by the parallel lines of the walls which are the building’s programmatic module. Both solid and hollow, occupiable walls vary in the height and width, creating a diverse set of spatial conditions appropriate for different exhibition types. Especially, walls at the exhibition area provide an extensive repertoire of types of exhibition spaces both for temporal and permanent exhibitions and create a wide variety of relationships between objects, observers, and landscapes.

   Walls at the exterior space provide special views to the historical context of the World Heritage property. Each wall at the outdoor garden at the north side of the site is oriented toward specific view at the Bamiyan valley. For example, as people walk up to the top of one of the walls, they start to see the empty niche of Buddha sculpture until they reach to the top and walk to see the vast panoramic view of the Bamiyan valley. This will allow people to watch the reconstruction process of the demolished Buddha by Taliban.

   The exhibition spaces respond to the nature of the collection. The interior space of the wall provides an intimate and enclosed space for special or domestic artifacts, while the broad expanses between the walls provide ample space for sculptures and large-scale works. The intersection of glass surfaces and the solid pylons creates vitrines for the display of smaller artifacts. Walls at the north side of the site provide landscape for the sculpture garden and viewing platform for the specific views of Bamiyan valley and outdoor walls at the south provide landscape courtyards and moments of rest.

   The circulation scheme is based on open and integrated programs. Northwest side of the Center is mainly for exhibition and southeast side of the Center is for education and research. 10 meters difference within the site is connected via big steps that create a continuity of circulation. These steps work as a multi-functional community space for people who visit the education center and exhibition space. Performance Hall is also accessed through these big steps and this space provides the public with picturesque views of the Buddha Cliffs and Budda niches. This space is envisioned to promote positive public discourse and cross-cultural understanding among different group of people.

   As the newly built structures grow from the existing landscape using locally resourced materials like concrete and brick, the overall natural landscape around the site will be preserved as a singular element in the panorama when seen from the Buddha cliff.

   The site for the Bamiyan Culture Center is situated on the plateau of Chawni Hill overlooking surrounding area, which has a high and low elevation that has an approximate 10 meter difference. The north and west site overlooks expansive views of the Buddha Cliffs and Buddha niches, a point of paramount importance to residents and tourists to the Bamiyan Valley. The main orientation of the building is aligned toward the Buddha Cliff to create a positive visual impact on the Cultural Landscape of Bamiyan Valley.

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