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This cultural centre project, organized by UNESCO, is to be located in the Bamiyan Valley facing the famed mountain that lost two colossal seventh-century statues of Buddha to Taliban militants in 2001. The incredible brief inspired an excavated building that would form a cone-of-vision to the historic valley.

The site approach occurs at elevation +2555.5, on the same level of nearby buildings. From this point, one descends into the site along a wall that retains the building program while providing a stroke of visual retention – just tall enough to graze the mountain tops of the panoramic view beyond. Upon entry into the building, a single horizontal panorama of the valley is unleashed, spanning from the Foladi Valley and the western Buddha all the way to the eastern Buddha. 

The main hall materializes this cone-of-vision. Composed of two geometric orientations, the angles of this cone are the result of the perpendicular axes of the entry wall and the cliff’s edge. As a space, the entire main hall is sloped at a gentle rate of 1:20, which helps to connect the site to the lower landscape, while optimizing the perspectival view of the valley. The east and west wings are ‘poche’ spaces, bracketing the cone-of-vision; they support a tightly knit configuration of courtyards that adopt the logic of local typologies, with each court gaining access to light and air independently. We have extended the logic of courtyards into the main hall by offering a series of transparent thematic courts that attempt to broaden the public’s understanding of the building’s geographic, social, and political contexts.

Principals: Nader Tehrani, Katherine Faulkner

Project Manager: Amin Tadj

Project Team: Lisa LaCharité, Katherine Faulkner, Yewona Chun, Enas Alkhudairy, Elizabeth Galvez, Nick Safley, Arthur Chang, Nicole Sakr, Parke Macdowell

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