Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2014-2016 Cycle (Shortlisted Project # 18): 40 Knots House, Tehran, Iran

speech delivered by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Award Ceremony for the 12th Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Lisbon, Portugal September 6, 2013…the world will soon reach a tipping point, where a majority of the world’s population for the first time will live in urban rather than rural environments. And so we must ask ourselves some searching questions: how, for example, can depopulated rural areas provide sufficient food and water to support dense urban agglomerations? And how can we best transform sprawling, impoverished human encampments into city neighborhoods that enhance the quality of human life?

 

Interestingly, we have had and we have seen in our own urban restoration programmes, the potential for bridging the urban-rural divide, for reintroducing something of the rural into the heart of the city. Parks and other open spaces, new and restored, can revive something of the balance between human construction and natural space. And they are astonishingly popular, with people of all economic backgrounds, and with people of all ages.

 

In these, as in so many other cases, it is amazing, and deeply humbling to see what a difference the built environment can make, in enhancing the everyday moments of everyday life.

 

Shortlisted Project – 2014-2016 Award Cycle: 40 Knots House, Tehran, Iran

Innovative low-cost techniques that reinterpret traditional brick facades.

Persian carpets are world renowned, and bricks have a strong relationship with Iranian historical architecture.

Here they are fused into a contemporary facade that appears as a collection of intricately interwoven modules.

Creating a small and low budget apartment building in Tehran does not leave much space for creativity, yet an architect can try to do something with the material, textures, outer envelope and light. In light of that, a modern interpretation of the ancient mashrabiyya was conceived by using the bricks available on the local market.

In order to reduce costs in the construction of this five-storey building, unskilled workers, unable to read technical drawings, were employed instead of master craftsmen. All the construction data was transformed into simple instructions to be recited by the supervisor during every fixing, resulting in a protruding irregular geometry, designed brick by brick, a system invented by watching carpet weavers in traditional workshops.

The building has been entirely covered with a mesh of bricks impaled on rod bars as contiguous pearl necklaces. The distances between the bricks have been adjusted to create an opaque effect, through which light does not pass, while when there is a window behind the mesh, it becomes a transparent grid.

Project Video

Innovative low-cost techniques that reinterpret traditional brick facades.

 

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Researched & Compiled by Arif Ali

 

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Author: Arif Ali

Arif lives miles away from the crowded city of Chicago. He has interest in technology, spirituality, religion, psychology and community. Find him somewhat engaged on Twitter.

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