Design Notebook by Sias SA

CARAVAN – International Competition for the Bamiyan Cultural Centre Afghanistan – by Atelier3AM


Just as caravans navigating the Silk Road were comprised of an aggregate group of independent vessels, each transporting fragments of otherworldly origin, so too is our proposal for the Bamiyan Cultural Centre conceived of as an assembly of vessels dedicated to cultural exchange, knowledge, and creativity. Bound together by common purpose and inspired by Afghanistan’s rich and diverse contribution to world heritage, this proposal crosses political, social, and cultural boundaries towards the establishment of common ground. In response to a cascading topography, earthen structures appear as a hilltop settlement, bound together in a mutually responsive arrangement that considers local climate, scale, and materiality.





A considerable drop in level within the site itself provokes a meandering composition. Courtyards define and characterize the in-between spaces, while terraces address the infinite expansion of the Bamiyan Valley, and the dramatic topography of the Hindu Kush.





The undeniable drama of this edge condition, and the charged voids of the Bamiyan Buddhas, is what magnetizes the cliff-edge, an expansive view of the regions layered history, agriculture, and geology. This panorama is a major organizational influence on our proposal, and draws the complex to the edges of the escarpment.







Project info

Architects: Atelier3AM
Project Team: Taymoore Balbaa, Chris Wong
Contributing Architects: Ayesha Moghal, Mo Soroor, Ibrahim Brad Miles, Amanda Chan, Nicola Chan, Priscilla Lee, Ulysses Valiente
Climate Engineering:Transsolar
Year: 2014-2015
Status: Competition Entry




Atelier3AM is a Toronto-based architecture, interiors and urban design studio established by Taymoore Balbaa and Chris Wong. ‘Caravan’, their proposal for the Bamiyan Cultural Centre competition in Afghanistan, has been selected to be showcased at the 8th Greek Young Architects Biennial inaugurated in Athens in September, proudly supported by SIAS SA.