Articles | Architecture
Iranian Contemporary Architecture
 Iranian Contemporary Architecture Tendencies and challenges

Gholamreza Talistchi/Hamidreza Ansari


Iran’s contemporary architecture can be divided into three periods. From the 1960’s up to the Islamic Revolution constitutes. In our view, the first period during which some new architecture, rooted in the national heritage and culture, was conceived. Taking distance from modernist international dogma. It clearly demonstrated a longing for the country’s traditional and spiritual essence.
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Iranian architects, studying the concepts laid out throughout their history, looked for ways to formulate a vocabulary, modern in expression but relevant to the overall concepts of their patrimony. The works of architects such as Nader Ardalan and Kmarna Diba were prolific examples of this trend. In 1974,Ardalan presented (with Laleh Bakhtiar), in his referential book” The sense of Unity”, an archetype of the worldview analysis of the traditional architecture of Iran.

The second period was instigated by the Islamic Revolution (1978).

During the first ten years (1978 to 1988) works tended toward a typological known reference to established traditional architecture, weather Islamic, Safavid or Qajar.

While striving to remain in the path of the international post-modernism movement, they attempted to re-capture some images of the past Iranian classical architecture. Islamic concepts and identity were used as a referential model for revivalism, although it lacked enough clarity to define a style of the architecture adequate to the period of the area.

The competition of the Iranian Academies launched, in 1994,the third period striving for a fresh path and line based on essential concepts and metaphors of the local culture.

Original ideas emerged in this nationwide competition marking the beginning of other revivalism, historic contextualism, progressist new and contemporary expressions which emphasized a search for the essence of Iranian heritage and an analysis of cultural space emerging through innovative configurations. From that period these different trends coexist: modern progressist and even high-tech, scientific deconstructivist avant-garde, without bearing to social and cultural context, abstract pure and modern, and finally the relevant conceptual based on the comprehension of the archetypical meaningful Iranian values, using abstraction in innovative forms with a blurry touch of perennial cultural space principals.

Theses approaches analyzed on the foundations of a subtle phenomenology are expressed in personal, philosophical, scientific or abstract interpretations.

However, abstracting typological essences of the heritage in order to derive a structural form seems to constitute the main legitimate method to design a building in an innovative way accounting for proportions, sense of space and location, the penetration of light, climate sustainability. This principle, while in accordance with all progressist and modern theories, revives the cultural issues and history.

In this article, a study of the diverse tendencies is presented: a phenomenological approach to designs and views towards the formation of architecture and their adherent influential sources through personal different expressions. In that range, major referential architects of the last period(1988-2003),each representative of their own views through various types of buildings are, among others: Seyyed Hadi Mirmiran, Hossein Sheikh Zeyneddin and Iraj Kalantari, Kamran Safamanesh, Kambiz Navai, Behrouz Ahmadi, Darab Diba, Mohammad Reza Ghanei, Yahya Fiuzi and Ali Akbar Saremi.