With 21 UNESCO World Heritage sites already within the country’s borders, the modern architecture movement appears to be making up for lost time
For much of the world, the image of Iran is hardened by its politics. Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, the country has been transformed from a pro-Western stronghold that promoted freedom and equality to the very antithesis of democracy. Yet a visit today to the capital of Tehran might change your perspective. Of course, the Iran we see in the news is still there, with all its anti-American propaganda. But beneath that increasingly fragile veneer of extremism is a growing sense of global curiosity and national pride. This cultural shift is signaled by the country’s first-ever Fashion Week, pro-Western art throughout the city, and especially the flourishing of modern architecture.
The Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, which won the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, is located next to the Holy Defense Museum in Tehran and designed by the Iranian architect Leila Araghian.
Another iteration of this connection with nature can be seen in the ski resort designed by the Tehran-based firm, RYRA Studio. Located in the mountains just north of Tehran, the bone-white structure blends in naturally with the snow-capped mountains surrounding it. “While the shapes and angles and sizes of structures have changed over time, the importance of nature has maintained a central role in Iranian architecture. You can see that fundamental theme from the Achaemenids dynasty (550–330 B.C.) through the Qajar dynasty (1789–1925 A.D.),” Koliji notes.
A ski resort designed by RYRA Studio, located an hour-and-a-half drive north of Tehran.
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