20% of a DREAM
Published in 2A Magazine Issue #15&16 Autumn 2010 Winter 2011
Faryar Javaherian is an Iranian architect and curator, born in Mashhad, Khorassan, raised in France and educated in the United States. She studied at the University of Texas at Austin, MIT and Harvard and co-founded Gamma Consultants with F. Bader. Gamma Consultants is recognized as the leading office in Museum and Persian Garden design in Iran. Her buildings have been widely published in Iranian architectural magazines and established her as having a recognizable Iranian Modern style. Most recently she has won the competition to build the new French School in Tehran, and is working on five museum projects. The exhibitions she has curated cover the fields of architecture, landscape, photography and cinema. She has been Art Director and set decorator for ten films including Hamoon and the Pear Tree, which are cult-films in Iranian cinema. She is the author of GARDENS OF IRAN: Ancient Wisdom, New Visions (Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art Publication, 2004), THIRTY YEARS OF SOLITUDE (Cambridge University Publication, 2007), and numerous articles in MEMAR to which she contributed as an editor. She has served as jury member on Memar Grand Prize and other international competitions. She has widely lectured in Iranian universities, as well as Oxford and Cambridge universities. She is one of the members of the Master Jury of the Aga Khan Award in Architecture this year.
20% of a DREAM
The article examines the gap between the clients’ needs and the architect’s dreams in two projects: one very briefly, in the Elahieh residential complex, where the client’s conservative aesthetics did not allow for an innovative façade; the other, more extensively, in the Lavasan residence, Hadi Mirmiran’s last executed project in which I was responsible for the interior architecture and the garden design along with Fereydoun Bader.
The Lavasan project has many architectural flaws, due to the clashes between the client’s needs and the architectural criteria set forth by Mirmiran, and as such is an interesting case study. The prominent fact about this project is that the client was willing to spend so much money in order to have a “Mirmiran-brand” building which had nothing to do with the usual residential typology and which looked like the Water Museum previously designed by Mirmiran and Shirdel and never built. Mirmiran who knew that this project has no residential qualities, asked me to make it “residential and warm,” a real challenge.
My collaboration began when the foundation, skeleton and some of the floor slabs had already been executed. At that time many of the original concepts had already been damaged.
Mirmiran’s concept for this project was a roof slab, which would become an open-air living room, on the same level as the street. Using the steep slope of the site, all the other levels would be hung from this rooftop, but never really touch ground. He had therefore envisaged a very light skeleton where slim columns would give the building a very light and floating appearance. Unfortunately this did not happen in reality and the structural system was very redundant and heavy.
There were three systems of vertical circulation: ramps, stairs and elevator. I eliminated the stairs which cramped the corridor – gallery, as well as a very steep ramp outdoors which was completely useless, and in that space created a very lightweight stairs to create a better link between the residential floors and the garden. The garden which is based on the concepts of the Persian Garden – a concept which Mirmiran had also used in his Frankfurt Consulate project where he had mixed hi-tech architecture with the plan of the Fin Garden, was designed with my partner Fereydoun Bader, and was immediately accepted by Mirmiran and the client, and is therefore not the subject of this article. But for the interior architecture, weekly meetings with the client prompted many changes in the plans, which both Mirmiran and I accepted.
The article which begins with the slogan “the client is king” and goes through remembrances of a college-day user-participation in design, concludes that architects should be mostly concerned with actualizing their clients’ dreams rather than their own.