r evitalizi n g b am yan
seeking self-sustainability in central afghanistan
Safira Lakhani, University of Waterloo School of Architecture
light taliban / insurgent activity
substantial taliban / insurgent activity
heavy taliban / insurgent activity
map of afghanistan
buddha destruction, 2001
bamyan valley c. 1960
bamyan valley c. 2010
There is a growing conviction that architecture has a capacity to transform the quality of human existence (Aga Khan IV). This emerges from the notion that architecture is simultaneously a subject of, and responsive to, forces that arise out of a set of existing conditions. Herein, architecture can further foster human potential, capacity building, and empowerment, especially in the rehabilitation of post-war environments. The issue at hand thus becomes one of developing a paradigm of self-sustainability. This is particularly evident in the rural central-Afghan town of Bamyan. Suffering from significant devastation of infrastructure, ethnic discrimination and challenging climate conditions, the people of Bamyan have become increasingly dependent upon the presence of foreign aid and troops which, while contributing significantly to the decrease of Taliban activity in the region, has instigated a move away from local means of income. Revitalizing Bamyan is a research and design proposal that finds its premise within this given set of conditions, and responds accordingly to foster a culture of self-sustainability. Specifically, the project speaks to two principal issues; rebuilding the local agricultural industry to increase self-sufficiency, and secondly, to incorporate within that, the notion of personal safety and security that is achieved through the construct of a home, of dwelling.
bamyan town plan
built snow fence
cistern = 23,825 m3/yr
[3m x 50m] x 5 fences captures 4765 m3/yr
roof catchment area
annual water capture per year as proposed by this design is 24,425 m3/yr.
= 15 m3/yr
living snow fence
(Value is conservative based on data from the US Army Corps of Engineers, 2009.)
[108 m2] x annual average precipitation
= 15 m3/yr (per household)
= growing season extended, from march to november
The project proposes a three-fold programme consisting of multigenerational housing that regenerates vernacular typologies, locally constructed greenhouses which will april
existing conditions design interventions
extend the growing season and allow for crop diversification, and water-retention
fruits + nuts
infrastructure including built and planted snow fences, additions and renovations
to destroyed canal routes, and underground cisterns. The focus on infrastructure embedded within architecture speaks to Afghanistanâ€™s resource issues: Bamyan is today t sep
significantly impoverished, subject to an arid climate with a single growing season
where water acquired principally from snow melt is not managed effectively, resulting in gradual desertification of the area. st
multigenerational family unit
= 87 m3/yr cow
rural farms require 800 m3/yr water per person in order for crops to yield adequate nutritional value. (UN-Water 2007)
july x 2/family
planting harvesting sunlight
fruits + nuts
current growing season
home = 740 w/day
other factors 1979_war with Russia destroys the majority of water infrastructure. 1992-2001_under Taliban rule, reconstruction was nearly non-existent as the countryâ€™s economic situation remained poor.
4x 185 watt
1997-2002_widespread drought in conjunction with war and regime changes has begun to increase desertification of certain areas. 2001+_while the presence of foreign aid and troops has instigated reconstruction work, it has also increased demand for water, and the use of borehole wells with pumps overexploit the resource. military operations have also further ruined irrigation systems and dams.
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Accordingly, the design proposal begins with the larger-scale issue of water retention, fetch: area upwind of snow fence. must be relatively free from tall vegetation
implementing snow fences, fifty-percent porous membranes of light-frame timber construction oriented perpendicular to the prevailing winds, to efficiently capture snow.
when wind passes through a porous snow fence, its velocity slows, causing heavy snow particles to fall and accumulate on the downwind side of the snow fence
Snow accumulates on the land, where it percolates into the ground water supply and into canals which lead to underground storage cisterns. Placed at specific topographic
intervals on the given site, these snow fences begin to carve out areas for built 1 metric ton of snow = 1 m3 of water
program. Localized planted snow fences stretch along horizontal planes delineated by topographic lines, parallel to greenhouses whose construction involves simple wooden
if the fence is 50% porous, the snow storage capacity in metric tons per meter-width of fence is given as Q = 8.5 (h)^2.2 where h = fence height.
snow fence design 2 3
arches over which a sheet of plastic can be draped to intensify growing conditions.
The use of inexpensive and local materials is at the core of this design proposal, as is further exemplified in the dwelling complexes which revisit the vernacular mud-brick cave dwelling
courtyard and cave typologies, and are oriented for optimum sunlight exposure while
principally found in bamyan, currently home to over 300 displaced persons
burrowing partially into the earth. Supportive of multiple generations, the dwellingâ€™s basic functions are met through simple systems of energy, water and waste movement in and out of the landscape. mountain dwelling usually located in forested areas of northern afghanistan
site plan courtyard fortress compound (qala) principal dwelling type of bamyan
vernacular dwelling typologies 0 1
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height: 3 m | width: 50 m | net water accumulation: 4765 m3 of water *based on the guidelines outlined by the US Army Corps of Engineers, 2009
a_animal area b_latrine [composting toilet & traditional washing area] c_washing d_kitchen e_storage f_family area g_winter courtyard h_summer courtyard i_solar panels j_precipitation catchment area k_greenhouse
dwelling: lower level floor plan
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dwelling: upper level floor plan
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energy systems energy
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waste thermal energy
active-living_solar energy is harnessed through four 185 w solar panels which are connected to a local solar battery, wiring, and various fixtures to meet lighting and other related needs.
se ou tic] nh plas
active-heating_domestic cooking is done by burning firewood, vegetation, animal excreta, and agricultural residue as fuel in the tandor a below-floor oven. excess heat from this oven is channelled through a serpentine duct system to heat the floor below the family room.
passive-winter_solar energy is captured and retained to heat the home via direct gain through thermal mass construction. the lower floor is buried into the hillside for heat retention purposes. proximity of the animal stable to the family room provides additional warmth.
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passive-summer_shading devices protect from direct thermal gain into the home. small courtyards surrounded by high walls serve to perserve the nighttime coolness of the interiors. interior vertical circulation makes use of the stack effect to expel heat in the summer, and melt snow in the winter.
water systems precipitation filtered greywater
used water waste water
1_precipitation collects in a landscaped canal. snow is melted by waste heat from the home. 2_water passes through a filter before entering cistern. 3_filtered water is pumped into the home, used for cooking, bathing, and washing. drinking water is further boiled. 4_used water from aforementioned activities passes through a biosand filtration pipe. 5_the now filtered grey water collects in a second cistern. 6_filtered greywater is used for the composting toilet, and is directed out to irrigation channels. 7_waste collects in a storage bin for compost. 8_nutrient-packed urine is diverted directly to the greenhouse.
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not shown_water collected via built snow fences collects in similar ditches which carry into the existing irrigation channels.
Revitalizing Bamyan is thus a design proposal that capitalizes on the existing and the essential to uncover the transformational potential of architecture by simultaneously respecting and challenging forces at play in the given society. The project ultimately aspires to generate a culture of self-sustainability through the marriage of vernacular and modern technologies to respond to pressing social issues, foster growth of a local economy, and improve the livelihoods of the people of Bamyan.
A full list of references and works cited is available upon request.
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