During its lifetime, the hammam of Khisht-i- Kopruk had seen many calamities but nothing like the one of the 14th of May 2010. The violent floods of the river Darya-i-Kholm damaged the building, seemingly beyond repair. The roofs and floors did not resist the malignant mud which filled the building’s rooms. Later that year, these damages caused the building’s shell to crack open due to the extreme cold. The people of Kholm were however determined to save this most appreciated piece of heritage.
AFIR - a team of architects and planners based in Kabul - was working on the restoration of Kholm’s Bagh-e-Jehan Nama palace and its gardens when the flood happened. Their work in the area allowed them to be immersed in the local community. When the local residents decided to organize themselves to save the hammam of Khisht-i-Kopruk, AFIR fully embraced their initiative. On behalf of the people of Kholm with the support of the Afghan government, AFIR architects & planners applied for a Cultural Emergency Response support from the Prince Claus Fund in order to restore Hammam of Khisht-i-Kopruk. The grant came just in time.
In the freezing winters of North Afghanistan, the hammam used to offer a moment of relief with its warm spaces and unabated supply of hot water. The public bathhouse is a place of ritual purification but is also frequented for medical reasons to cure a great variety of ailments.
But maybe the hammam’s real popularity reason is that it is frequented for socializing; whether for exchanging news and information or for gossip and speculation.
A hammam has to deal primarily with high differences in temperature and humidity. Building mass is important for energy storage, but moisture permeability is critical to allow vapor migration and prevent mold.