ahmet balkan's proposal for the UNESCO bamiyan cultural center
ahmet balkan's proposal for the UNESCO bamiyan cultural center ahmet balkan's proposal for the UNESCO bamiyan cultural center
apr 01, 2015

ahmet balkan's proposal for the UNESCO bamiyan cultural center

ahmet balkan’s proposal for the UNESCO bamiyan cultural center
all renderings courtesy of frontop




as afghanistan continues to regrow and expand, architecture has a crucial job of instilling a contemporary cultural identity emblematic of the diverse mosaic that is the afghan people. in november 2014, UNESCO, along with the ministry of information and culture of afghanistan–and financial support from the republic of korea–announced an international design competition for the construction of the bamiyan cultural centerwhich now ranks as the fifth most popular contest in the history of architecture.

kakrak silence court and the path to buddha




a proposal entered by ahmet balkan architects was chosen as a finalist from the pool of over 1070 designs submitted from 117 countries. titled either the ‘silent groundscraper or the open hawli’, it seeks to distill architecture to its simplest and most essential forms to provide an economical and socially meaningful public space. the traditional courtyard–or hawli–is an essential element of afghan dwellings. like private homes, all functions of the cultural center revolve around the central courtyard, radiating outwards to the greater landscape of bamiyan.

lobby and foyer to the cultural center encircling the hawli




each court has a designated function, and is located according to that purpose. the varied programs and spaces are dedicated to exhibitions, research, education, arts and crafts, performances, events, or conferences. the immediate mission of the design is to provide an area for the community, tourists, archaeologists and scholars to contribute to and safeguard afghan culture–unfortunately too late to protect the buddha’s opposite the site, which were destroyed by taliban forces in march, 2001.

workshop for arts and crafts opening up to foladi wisdom court


performance hall

hawli is the heart and meeting area of bamiyan cultural center

open court to the valley and buddha cliffs

from across the valley

concept diagram

site plan

grounds floor plan


video © ben bruges




project info:


team leader: ahmet balkan
team member: emre bozatli
renderings: frontop
location: bamiyan, afghanistan
client: UNESCO, ministry of information and culture of afghanistan
program: cultural centrr
gfa: 2.200m2



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
    491,186 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample