The scheme ‘Descriptive Memory: The Eternal Presence of Absence’ by M2R – Carlos Nahuel Recabarren, Manuel Alberto Martínez Catalán, and Franco Morero – won the UNESCO-organized 2014 international competition for a cultural center near the Bamiyan Valley. Listed as a World Heritage site, this enclave is known for its two giant Buddha statues carved into the rock about 1,500 years ago and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
The 2,420-square-meter cultural complex is dug into the ground to adapt to the natural slope of the site and minimize its visual impact on the landscape, while harnessing the insulation and thermal inertia provided by the terrain. Because it is set below the level of the entrance, views of the surroundings can be enjoyed. From the square that works as the heart of the premises, one gets to the three independently-functioning buildings: culture, education, and administration. Stripped of ornaments, the austere interior spaces combine skylights – strategically positioned to create lines of light – with vaulted exhibition galleries and roofs that serve as lookout points.