The proposal is located inside of the project area in accordance with a precise choice, given by the relationship between its proportions, the existing built environment, the smooth hill which is located on and the Buddha Cliff. The aim is to have as a reference point for the genesis and the development of the project what is nearby and defines the limits of the area as much as the complex elevation profile of the city and the spectacular surrounding mountainscape. Therefore the building lays down onto the gap between the higher and the lower part of the plot and is articulated into two different volumes divided by a pedestrian path, whose direction is deeply affected by the presence of the Buddha Cliff, that represents the arrival point of this path, ideally connecting the Cultural Center with the East Buddha Statue.
The program is then articulated into two distinct volumes. On the west side of the pedestrian path all of the more public activities are located: the entrance hall, the tea house and the retail shop, the exhibition space with the storage, and the performance hall are all arranged in this part of the building. This rooms follow one another along a sort of top-down itinerary, creating a promenade that finds on the North side its stable reference point in the Buddha Cliff, which remains visible through the wide glazing. The exhibition space is infact divided into big steps that gradually widen the view towards the East Buddha Statue niche, reminding the visitor the importance of the cliff for both the Cultural Center and the whole region of Bamiyan.
On the East side of the path a smaller volume is located, housing the more private functions of the program, divided onto two levels: level 0 is reserved for the Public/Private functions (classrooms, workshop studio and research center), while the private functions of administration and conference room are located at the lower level, directly connected to the exhibition area through an underground way.
The longitudinal section of the building, adjusted to the terrain profile, shows different approaches to the different environments it is facing on and relates with; on the North side the relationship with the Buddha Cliff determines a tall facade, a "giant order" defined by big arched openings, that recall the niches where the Buddha Statues used to be.
On the South side the size of the front and of the openings is more related with the human scale, defining a sort of piazza that acts as the access to the Cultural Center. This approach reflects the general strategy of the project, deeply based on the unity of all the areas and at the same time the diversification of the proposed atmospheres; the different spaces are all individual and collective at the same time, the homogeneity of the architectural language lets the visitor understand the unity of the building, but the diversification of the openings, of the roofing, the different natural light treatments, the different levels of the floor, double heights and patios diversify the atmosphere allowing the visitor to find a personal and intimate dimension in every part of th Cultural Center.
Being on the top of the hill from which it is possible to admire, besides the Buddha Cliff, the biggest part of the city of Bamiyan, its urban structure and it traditional architecture - mainly composed of detached houses made out of pressed mud or bricks - the Cultural Center is a vast building, kind of monumental, which anyway doesn't dominate over the surroundings, it fits without snatches inside the existing urban fabric, it integrates with the built environment and the landscape. Thus the materials choice, rather than responding to mere technological and constructive needs, aims to integrate as much as possible the building with the surrounding environment: the pressed mud walls can guarantee a good thermal insulation, are easy and cheap to build, but mostly they merge with the arid surrounding ground, while the brick vaults, a local architectural feature, recall the curvy lines of the nearby mountains.
"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive" Robert Louis Stevenson
The pedestrian path that connects the Cultural Center to the lower part of the city - where the street market takes place - becomes an opportunity to feel and experience the difference in height by cutting through the hill, transposing the immense and spectacular surrounding landscape to a more intimate and personal dimension.