JJs architecture honors bamiyan valley with silent monument proposal
JJs architecture honors bamiyan valley with silent monument proposal JJs architecture honors bamiyan valley with silent monument proposal
mar 05, 2015

JJs architecture honors bamiyan valley with silent monument proposal

JJs architecture honors bamiyan valley with silent monument proposal
all images courtesy of JJs architecture




JJs (joão araújo sousa & joana correia silva) is a portuguese architecture firm and participant in UNESCO‘s 2015 bamiyan cultural centre design competition. now completed, the contest called for proposals to build a cultural center within the bamiyan valley of central afghanistan. the brief given to entrants says the facility is to support artistic and cultural processes, using the institution as a platform to connect the public with afghan traditions and practices. after considering various budget and briefing restraints, JJs decided to focus on creating the concept of a silent monument, unassuming and environmentally integrated.





the building sits within a transition area between the plot’s two elevations, with a roof extending the higher ground with an apparently spontaneous and offset geometry. the plan increases outdoor space, while also recreating the landscape that better serves the center’s spatial organization. by doing so unobstructed views of the bamiyan valley and distant buddha cliff are seen from almost every place on the site, further immersing the center into the landscape.


interior circulation ring




based on the importance of courtyards in vernacular culture and architecture, all rooms are arranged around a central atrium with an inner ring connecting each area. it provides generous space well suited to hosting art, archeology, installations and events; as well as orientation within the building. the centralization brings all functions, as well as people, closer together. besides the smaller environmental impact, it creates potential for frequent informal meetings and casual encounters among visitors.

courtyard interior




the landscaping strategy for the center’s gardens is a matrix of pedestrian paths. the plan has strong islamic influence, based on a geometric flower that originates within the central courtyard and radiates outwards. within islamic tradition, water plays an important role. two water reservoirs are placed at the low-and-high limits of the site. water channels connect the two via gravity irrigation. floor vents throughout the building, intercepted by water channels, keep the space cool during summer months.

exhibition room 1




curved concrete boundary walls improve the ability of the building to withstand seismic events while simultaneously reducing wall thickness. all building façades and external walls are finished with a layer of loam bricks, which completed the local materials requirement of the brief. bricks used for the main structure were fire baked to increase durability, and bricks used for exterior walls were sun-baked, a lower cost option, in order to reduce construction costs.

surrounding landscape

section–access ramp


1-200 plan



designboom has received this project through its ‘DIY submissions’ feature, which welcomes readers to submit their own work for publication. see more designboom readers submissions here.

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    491,173 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample