International Architectural Ideas Competition for the new National Museum of Afghanistan

International Architectural Ideas Competition for the new National Museum of Afghanistan


Kabul, Afghanistan

Inspired by the dramatic geography of Kabul and amazing historical buildings, an organic architecture grows from the earth and offers an archaeological sense of discovery, mystery and surprise, celebrating the incredible treasures housed within. They are not familiar Western forms ignoring Afghanistan’s long past, but something new derived from Afghan soil, specifically representing the tribal nature of the culture and the comfort and security of a traditional mosque.

Visitors experience calming and compression, as they are introduced to Afghanistan’s interesting and complex timeline of history, while descending a gentle incline five meters into the earth-integrated museum. Exhibition space is housed within galleries located around an exterior contemplation garden.  The central garden containing water element and fruit trees is a calm and peaceful gathering space for visitors and students and allows controlled natural daylight to enter the museum. Each historical period gallery, arranged along a linking circulation path is defined by its own conical structure.

A few of the many resource conserving, sustainable concepts integral to the design of the Museum include ambient daylighting of galleries through north facing oculi with operable louvers, photovoltaic power, rainwater harvesting for use in irrigation, gray water re-capture for toilet flushing, earth integration, planted roofs, reverse insulated thermal mass, and heat concentration and redistribution in winter and thermal chimney effect in summer.   

Sponsored by the government of Afghanistan through the Ministry of Information and Culture, the International Architectural Ideas Competition for the New National Museum of Afghanistan attracted architects, urban planners and designers from 140 countries to design the Nation’s archaeological and ethnographic museum in the context of a war torn nation.

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