Winner of the 2001 Aga Khan Architectural Award, this Tehran
park marries traditional stone masonry with visionary park planning.
By Cyrus R. Sabri and Patrick Miller, FASLA
Accreted layers of conquests and invasion over thousands of years
have formed a sedimentary layering of culture that is Iran today.
The first recorded gardens in the world date from nearly 5,000 years
ago in what is now Iran; so it was not without some sense of our
own insignificance in the face of cultural evolution that two landscape
architects, an American and a repatriated Iranian, set out on an
assignment from Landscape Architecture to visit and report
on an award-winning park in Iran's capitol, Tehran.
The 20-odd years of relative isolation from the United States following
the Islamic revolution in 1979 are only a brief moment in the evolution
of Iranian culture. Yet we felt that this was a pivotal time, as
many cultures in the world are struggling to understand their relationship
to one another.
No, we were not looking for world peace in the design of a park,
and perhaps our undertaking was as much to satisfy personal questions
as it was to provide this report. But what we did find was reassuring.
We found a warm and friendly people who actively use their parks
and have a love of naturein many ways not that different from
Americans. But we also found cultural differences and practices
that we can learn from. We found a people who, while being steeped
in tradition, also have parks that are creative and whimsical. Whether
as a place to be in nature, a place to meet with family and friends,
or a place for a political rally, parks are an important part of
the Iranian social fabric.
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