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Design contest launched for Bamiyan cultural museum

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UNESCO has launched a design competition for a £1.6 million cultural centre in Bamiyan, Afghanistan

The ‘innovative and inspirational’ structure will occupy a 26,000m² site overlooking the historic Hindu Kush and the empty niches of two giant statues of Buddha which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

Open to registered architects and multi-disciplinary teams, the single-stage contest seeks proposals for a 2,200m² building featuring a gallery, theatre, research area and classrooms.

According to the brief: ‘The competition seeks to reinforce culture and history as the base of Afghan unity, while celebrating the cultural sensitivities of the diverse ethnic groups.’

The document continued: ‘The Bamiyan Cultural Centre is intended to be a place of reconciliation, of peace building and of economic development in Afghanistan.

‘The Centre will be a space for exchanges of ideas and knowledge and a dynamic gathering place for communities to honour past traditions and to plan for the future.’

The statues – known as the Buddhas of Bamiyan – were carved into sandstone cliffs during the sixth century when the area was the most westerly point of Buddhist expansion.

Various countries and international bodies have pledged to support the statues’ reconstruction since they were dynamited 13 years ago.

The cultural centre project is backed by the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture with financial support from the Republic of Korea.

Judges include Afghani architect Zahara Bereshna, Architecture for Humanity co-founder Cameron Sinclair and Elizabeth O’Donnell – the acting dean of The Cooper Union in New York.

The winner will receive around £16,000 and four runner-up prizes worth around £5,000 each will also be awarded.

The deadline for submissions is 22 January.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

House 647, Jami Watt, PD-10, Shahr-e-Naw
Kabul, Afghanistan




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