“Architecture must integrate cultural wealth and creative spirit, I would even venture to say the dreams of a society aiming to become itself a force of integration of space and time where all creative and productive activities and human exchange take place. It is true that the power of integration of the classic Islamic culture at one time rested on the recurring spiritual energy which is called faith: faith expressed in ritual behaviour repeated daily but also in ethical rules and laws, the relationship to nature, even with visible and invisible worlds stresses in the Qur’an, thus creating a unity of thought and existence.
It is not a question of imposing a theology, a philosophy, a moral, but of forever encouraging an effort of analysis, understanding and explanation to give present Islamic thought every means of objectively knowing its past and of actively participating in the adventure towards self-renewal. Our ambitions must go beyond what is at present the case with Muslim societies, towards enriching, through the example of Islam, research and realizations conducted in the most advanced countries. In my opinion, it is the only efficient way to control the effects of technology transfer, of economic and cultural example in Islamic countries.”
Shortlisted Project – 2014-2016 Award Cycle: Manouchehri House, Kashan, Iran
The Manouchehri House is a boutique hotel and textile centre situated in Kashan’s historic residential neighborhood, in the province of Isfahan.
The project entailed the restoration of a 19th century merchant home, typical of the historic residential buildings of the area which have for the most part fallen into complete disrepair.
The initial purpose that informed the undertaking was threefold:
- the revival of historically significant hand-woven textile traditions of Kashan which were on the brink of extinction;
- the renovation, restoration and revitalisation of a historic house and its surrounding neighbourhood in order to draw attention to the vast treasury of this architectural heritage in danger;
- and raising awareness of the cultural, artistic and technological traditions embedded in the Islamic architectural traditions of this region.
Manouchehri House houses not only the textile workshops for brocade, silk, cotton and velvet weaving, but also features the city’s finest dining establishment, a contemporary art gallery, a handicraft shop, and a subterranean movie house adapted from the original cistern of the old structure.
The project has met with so much success that it has drawn thousands of people from across the world, and has triggered many similar initiatives across the city.
The combined reinvigoration of the architectural and craft-work heritage in an old city has sparked a broader revitalisation.
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Researched & Compiled by Arif Ali