Kamvari Architects’s Iran Pavilion for London Design Biennale merges traditional and contemporary architecture

Kamvari Architects’s Iran Pavilion for London Design Biennale merges traditional and contemporary architecture

Iran, Iranian Pavilion, London Design Biennale

Kamvari Architects’s Iran Pavilion for London Design Biennale uses architecture to bridge a gap between vernacular forms and contemporary applications – a debate that is at the forefront among Iranian designers and architects.

“Our proposal for the London Design Biennale builds on the theme of emotions by attempting to highlight and bring to the forefront the emotional state of a young and dynamic country with a long and illustrious history in architecture, coming to terms with the ever-changing pace of contemporary life,” said Kamvari Architects.

“Everything for designers and architects in Iran revolves around a flux between the past, present and future.

“The contrast between the two and the requirements of some designers to preserve the past and vernacular [applications], while others are forging ahead, has created a state of ambiguity in terms of design identity and possible ways forward,” the architects explain.

The winning proposal attempts to address this issue by looking at ‘Muqarnas’ –  a form of ornamented vaulting in Islamic architecture – that is common across Iran, and enclosing its rounded form within a 3D-printed metal wire frame as a exercise in connecting two diverse approaches to architecture.

The wire frame cages the Muqarna form both literally and metaphorically, used as a “symbol of entrapment, while dematerialising the Muqarna and highlighting manufacturing capabilities and advanced technologies”.

The  Muqarna is stripped of its decorative elements and exists as a pure form, using geometry as a fundamental part of the architecture, taking away its grandness and allowing it to become more “humanised”.

The square shape of the wire frame and the circular form of the Muqarna come together to form a “human-scale” architecture in terms of scale, space, and volume.

“In this way the pavilion refers to and builds on a wonderful history while updating manufacturing and design to highlight a possible way forward,” the architects said. “The traditional can be used and updated and the compromise can be a beautiful object such as this pavilion”.

The pavilion is led by architect Omid Kamvari and his team, including Amir Keshavarzian and Setareh Barimani.

designMENA has previously reported on other projects in Iran that merge contemporary and vernacular architecture such as Bam Architects’ residential project that uses straw and dung for exterior Zav Architects’ home for underprivileged girls in rural Iran; as well as a residential complex in Tehran inspired by window design in traditional Iranian architecture. 


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