Afghans have decided to build a modern building in the heart of Kabul to host their new National Museum. The museum’s permanent collection is yet to be finalized, but it will be a historical selection that will connect with the Afghan people. The Ministry of Culture and the US Embassy in Kabul held a meeting to review 70 projects from 43 different nationalities.
The Spanish architectural firm AV62 won the competition for the design of the new structure. The jury awarded the prize to the Barcelona-based firm, bearing in mind that the proposal is “a bold and thoughtful response to the technical and aesthetic requirements, and it has the potential to result in a building that is both efficient and affordable and … a source of pride for future generations of Afghans”.
AV62 Arquitectos is an open team of professionals dedicated to the design of conceptual structures (systems based on ideas, needs and wishes) with physical presence (cities, landscapes, buildings and exhibitions). They champion a model of material growth oriented toward total sustainability (energy, environmental, social, cultural and economic), rooted on more extensive interdisciplinary collaboration, with a vision for the future based on innovation and creativity.
This team of young architects has less than ten years working in architecture and design. To their credit there is an extensive list of museums, public and private institutions, including: Museu d’ Història de la Ciutat, Barcelona; Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts; Picasso Museum Málaga; Picasso Museum Barcelona; Museu Marítim de Barcelona; Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos; Casa Asia; Fundació Miró and Fundació Tapies. They have clearly found a niche of specialization in museum work.
The firm had previously won a bid for the revitalization of Adhamiya, an emblematic Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad of approximately 400,000 inhabitants. This experience helped them prepare their proposal for the design of the new National Museum of Afghanistan. One of the requirements for the winning team was to have worked in Arab countries, especially in areas of conflict. For this project, security is paramount. According to the jury, the merit of the design presented by AV62 “rests on the balance that has been achieved between the architectural form and the presentation of the collections that will be housed in the proposed new museum”.
The new building will have a distinctive exterior appearance, which responds to the local context, along with “a coherent scheme of interior spatial articulation that takes into account the nature of the materials that might be displayed”. Although the final cost is not yet known, it has become public that the building will be relatively simple, affordable and realistic to construct with local materials and knowhow.
Other deciding factors in the selection of AV62’s proposal were their handling of security, and the possibility of taking advantage of Kabul´s natural light “through the intelligent use of the indoor courtyard and ceiling baffles”.
The building will not be monumental. “The human scale of the proposed new museum is not intimidating and has the potential to welcome visitors and encourage them to spend time inside or in the adjoining garden,” says the firm. ■