AV62 Arquitectos wins National Museum of Afghanistan Competition

First Prize: (Spain)

The Ministry of Information and Culture of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in collaboration and sponsorship with the Government of the United States of America and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, has awarded AV62 Arquitectos first prize for the National Museum of Afghanistan Competition. The Spanish team was selected over 72 other design proposals from 31 countries.

A second and third prize winner, along with three honorable mentions, were also recognized at the awards ceremony in Kabul. More details after the break.

The mission of the new National Museum of Afghanistan is to conserve, collect, study and exhibit important examples of the nation’s uniquely rich and diverse cultural patrimony, while educating the local and international communities and advancing the world’s knowledge and appreciation of Afghanistan’s remarkable history and traditions.

First Prize: AV62 Arquitectos (Spain)
Design team: Toño Foraster Mariscal, Victoria Garriga Ariño, Blanca Pujals, Stefano Carnelli, Itziar Imaz, Nuno Lopes, Daria Luce, Luis de la Fuente, Samantha Sgueglia, Marc Marin

First Prize: AV62 Arquitectos (Spain)

The jury report stated: “The strength of this Design Proposal 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 building. This has been achieved by an exterior appearance that is distinctive yet understated and 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. Moreover, the design is a relatively simple building solution that is both affordable and realistic to construct with the materials and skills locally available – this design will enable the collection to be safely stored as soon as possible. The clear and simple circulation concept, along with a degree of modularity, results in an efficient spatial arrangement for staff and operations that also provides a degree of flexibility in responding to changing needs and variation of displays.

In their presentation, the designers seem to have given as much thought to the exhibitions as to the appearance of building envelope, which is discreet and does not compete with the existing National Museum premises or other buildings in the area. The proposal is one of the few that creates interior spaces that respond effectively to the brief, while providing a basic, well-proportioned shell within which a number of display configurations might be considered, with effective and realistic use of the intense natural light of Kabul through the intelligent use of the internal courtyard and ceiling baffles. This consideration of variation and drama – the two most important assets of a gallery space – would be a delightful surprise to the visitor moving through this deceptively simple shell. Through its use of parallel brick vaults to roof the building, the designers have sought to draw on vernacular forms and materials, as well as on uses of natural light. The Jury felt that, although the design’s application of exterior decorative ceramic tile was not particularly successful, the use of such traditional materials could be revisited and effectively utilized with this design. The use of traditional materials is generally cost effective in terms of construction costs and maintenance and also supports the preservation of these traditional skills and the craftsmen who practice them. The human scale of the proposed new museum building is not intimidating, and has the potential to welcome visitors and encourage them to spend time inside or in the adjoining garden, where appropriate additions have been proposed that have the potential to link the existing with the new. In summary, the First Prize Winner is a bold and thoughtful response to the technical and aesthetic requirements of the brief, and it has the potential to result in a building that is both efficient and affordable and, as a national institution, to be a source of pride for future generations of Afghans.”

Second Prize: Mansilla + Tuñón Arquitectos (Spain)
Design team: Emilio Tuñón, Matilde Peralta, Jesús Vasallo, María José Castillón, Ruben Arend, Carlos Brage, Marceline Ruckstuhl, Andrés Regueiro, Carlos Martínez 

Second Prize: (Spain)

Third Prize: fs-architekten, Paul Schröder Architekt BDA (Germany)
Design team: Paul Schröder, Sabine Habicht, Oliver Schmand, Gregor Kahlau, Melanie Dahmen, Süleyman Yaya, Rona Khpalwak, Alona Lavrenteva

Third Prize: fs-architekten, Paul Schröder Architekt BDA (Germany)

Honorable Mention:

The jury:

  • Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen (Chair, Minister of Information and Culture)
  • Toby Allen (MEng (Hons) Engineering Sciences, CEng, MICE)
  • Susanne Annen (Dipl.-Ing. Architecture)
  • Klaus Bode (Hon FRIBA , BSc (Hons) Building Environmental Services Engineering)
  • Dinah Casson (1st class degree Ravensbourne College of Art & Design)
  • Dr Vartan Gregorian (President Carnegie Corporation, New York)
  • Dr Navina Haidar (MA Art and Archaeology BA Honors English Literature)
  • Professor Bashir A. Kazimee (BArch, MArch Advanced Studies)
  • Jolyon Leslie (BArch, MA Diploma Architecture)
  • William C.S. Remsen (MArch, MA Landscape Architecture, B.A. Anthropology and Architecture)


Reference: AV62 Arquitectos, S.E.E. Office for Architecture and Design, Embassy of the United StatesBustler

Images courtesy of International Architectural Ideas Competition for the National Museum of Afghanistan (IAIC_NMA).

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "AV62 Arquitectos wins National Museum of Afghanistan Competition" 05 Oct 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=279605>
  • Paul

    AKA the Kimball Art Museum v2? How can the author of the article not reference this? Louis Kahn needs some credit. If not by the design architect then maybe the author of the article should make the obvious connection.

  • Justin

    Shame of the architecture! It’s the result of judging the poor architects in architecture world. After receiving big achievements from Rem Koolhaus …zaha hadid …and ….we must learn really big lessons from such as these poor architects as a jury nowadays.deep regret…

  • ahmed

    Unbelievable! It’s a Kimbell art museum all over again, were the jury blind to a knock off? this wouldn’t stand in any architecture school.

  • Dustin Unrau

    This is clearly an interpretation of the Kimbell Art museum, however, if you are going to imitate a building, it might as well be a great building. There should be some reference to it though, and the architects shouldn’t act as if it was their original idea.