National Museum of Afghanistan. International Ideas Competition. Kabul, Afghanistan
Maria José de Blas
Miguel Peña Martínez-Conde, team architect
Antonio Romeo Donlo, team architect
Daniel Mayo, team architect
OLD AND NEW
The existing Museum Building is a symmetrical neo-classical structure, from 1922. This symmetry makes it an autonomous object in the landscape, like the Darul Aman Palace or the National Institute of Archeology; an imposing neighbor of grand formality. The new Museum while of similar size in elevation is a subtle interplay of courtyards and galleries, a structure that seeks to establish visual relations with its neighbors, an agile play of horizontal spaces. The new addition seeks to be good neighbor in this historic district, its size integrated into the landscape, its geometry defined by the historic gardens and site geometries.
The entrance court and interior courtyards are complimentary to the architecture; building, vegetation and mountains beyond forming a coherent whole–dynamic spaces that enter into the life of the Museum. The courtyard is an element of traditional domestic architecture in Kabul, and its privacy provides a different type of cultural space. Used in the museum the courtyards supply light, their plants put nature in relation to the galleries content. The entrance court, with its water feature, is a cordial space, its careful placement on site providing protection from prevailing winds year round. The courtyards are accessed at the ends of the gallery spaces, their geometry lending spatial continuity, forming peaceful oases to rest eye and body along the Museum itinerary.