Bamiyan Cultural Center
Location: Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan
Area: 2500 m²
Features: Sustainable architecture, brick, concrete, solar panels integrated in roof
Client: UNESCO
Author: Manuel Nunez Yanowsky, Julia Suprunovich
Date and phase: Competition conceptual design 2015

Architects: Manuel Nunez Yanowsly together with Julia Suprunovich

Bamiyan Cultural Centre project was designed to fit the cultural needs, join the community, represent, preserve and respect great history and cultural heritage of Afghanistan and the Bamiyan Valley. The project’s main idea is
rendez vous of traditions with modernity in Bamiyan Valley.

This innovative project responds the main guidelines of sustainable architecture, featuring such aspects of sustainability like the use of the solar energy, use of ecological materials, environmentally based planing and underground sewage plant.


From the ancient times, myths and traditions of the afghan people comes a unique masterpiece – the uniting symbol of people and countries –the Afghan carpet! This object, functional and sacred at the same time, lives collectively and in daily close contact with every individual of Afghanistan, without distinction of wealth, clan, culture or cult. The whole nation uses it. Afghan carpet is a strong symbol representing human beings, the family, the clan, their culture and traditions as well as religion, calendar, lifestyle… the carpet also represents the wealth, spiritual richness and universal perception of the world. Afghan carpet is a gigantic woven book about creation of human beings and world. The image of the flying carpet of Bamiyan Cultural Centre declares the continuity of the cultural world of the afghan nations. Weaving this three-dimensional carpet is creating the most contemporary and iconic project of the modern Afghanistan, in which tradition meets modernity.


The project offers a huge landscape garden-carpet between the Buddha Cliff and Shahr-i-Ghulghulah, which serves the ideal viewing platform in the center of the valley in order to look for rest and inspiration. The garden consists in local breeds of trees. The lower and upper parts of the garden are united by a central mineral and water carpet - axial promenade - which is the heart of our project. It offers a variety of terraces with viewpoints for the teahouse, open air concerts and exhibitions, and can be reached by pedestrians as well as by motor vehicles through a specially designated road. Drinking traditional tea in the teahouse on the terrace with a view on Bamiyan Valley – is a good start to get in touch with the culture of Afghanistan.

Architecture and functionality

In the same way as in a carpet – for holiday, dice or pray, - all public and private services of the cultural centre are situated in one level, in the center of the composition. This situation simplifies operation and maintenance of the cultural centre. Indeed, a single compact volume makes the building a more practical and safer place. The entrance to the cultural centre is in the middle of the building, protected by shed and equipped with video control. The composition of the plan reminds the structural composition of a carpet: the central part of the cultural centre with its main public services, as the theatre and the exhibition area, is surrounded by a peripheral corridor (border). All the other services are to be located within the outer border. There are 2 large terraces for open air exhibitions, with wonderful panoramic views of the Buddha Cliff and of the garden. Both of them place a teahouse, which are independent from the one inside the building, and possible to reach by the promenade from the upper and lower garden.

Construction and building materials

Reinforced concrete is to be used to ensure the seismic resistance of building. Steel reinforcement may be replaced with composite one, that makes reinforced concrete lighter and reduces its cost on 30-40 %. Construction of the roof, its ferms and columns, are to be made of steel. Interiors and garden terraces are to be faced with brick and mosaic, using traditional afghan geometric ornaments.

Ecology and energy efficiency

Electricity will be produced by electric supply system which comprises 1000 m2 of photovoltaic cell panels and about 700 m2 of evacuated tube thermal solar collectors supplying power to turbine, which rotates a 220 v * 30 kw electric generator.  Solar collectors are colored and combined with solar cells to form a pattern of traditional carpet on the roof of the building.