Skepticism and debate towards big competition results is nothing new, especially with a landmark project like the Bamiyan Cultural Centre. Following UNESCO in Afghanistan's announcement of the winners last week, competition entrants Kia Massoudi along with Nick Roseboro, Fabio Pradarelli, and Alessandro Orsini of New York-based firm Architensions set up an online petition requesting that the Jury re-evaluate their decision.
After receiving land in Bamiyan, UNESCO Office in Afghanistan -- along with the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture with support from the Republic of Korea -- organized a competition for a new cultural center in the historic Bamiyan valley region. The single-stage competition reeled in a stunning total of 1,070 design proposals. The Cultural Centre is regarded as a contribution to Afghanistan's path towards peace, restoration, and economic redevelopment after decades of political unrest.
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The seven-member Jury selected "Descriptive Memory: The Eternal Presence of Absence" by Carlos Nahuel Recabarren, Manuel Alberto Martinez Catalan, and Franco Morero of Argentina as the overall winning proposal. Four runner-up teams from Turkey, France, Cyprus, and the Netherlands were also announced.
The online petition states the Jury's decision is "unfair and unprofessional" and is requesting a more elaborate explanation of their decision process. According to the petition, the winning scheme disregards several essential criteria of the competition, including a lack of connection to Afghan cultural backgrounds, sensitivity to the environment, as well as a need for more substantial explanations of construction methods, materials, sustainability, and cost. The number of signatures in the petition has gone up to 89.
Nick Roseboro explained via email that Architensions and reportedly many others have been "very vocal" about the competition results. "The problem in the result of the competition relies on the fact that the jury did not take into consideration the prescriptions of the brief which were very strict," wrote Roseboro. "We feel that we have been mislead (sic) by the organizers, the winners scheme is poorly drawn up when the brief asked for drawings at the specific scale. The brief was demanding for energy strategy and notion of buildability but the winner did not address any of it."
Request for comment from the competition organizers has not been returned.
Find the full petition here.
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