Interviewed by Ahmad Zohadi
Architect, Principal Partner at Gamma Consultants
Sustainable design is a design that results in an architecture which sustains itself in time, which becomes ENDURING (mandegar).
If a building stands the test of centuries and is still existent, it has several meanings: it was a well-functioning building, it had a strong structure, and most importantly, it looked familiar to the people and it was aesthetically appealing to them. Whether it is works of art or architecture, it is the general consensus of people that decides which works must continue their life, and it does not mean that specialists are the ones who decide, but simply the general public at large. I always like to give this example: Sardar-Afkhami had built three houses in a row before the Revolution – in the 1970’s in Pasdaran: one for his mother- in- law, one for his sister-in-law and one for himself. The first two were in a “colonial” style with pitched roofs. His own house was totally Iranian and absolutely marvelous. There is a photo of it in Roloff Beny’s PERSIA: BRIDGE OF TURQUOISE. All three properties were confiscated at the beginning of the Revolution. The first two houses were demolished and a huge complex has been built over that land, but his own house has been preserved and renovated and is being used for receiving foreign dignitaries. It is easy to see that even the pasdars can distinguish what is really outstanding architecture worthy of preservation. So for me all those buildings which have remained and are part of our heritage because they have sprung from our own culture, have a sustainable design. If we want to learn sustainable design, we must look at and analyze the design process of those precedents.
To give some examples of sustainable design, I always refer to the houses of Kashan and Yazd – although I am sure there are many more in other regions of Iran. For me the Abbassi, the Boroujerdi, the Ameri, the Tabatabai Houses are the best examples in Kashan; 250 houses have been registered in Kashan as National Monuments worthy of preservation and renovation. The same is true in Yazd, where our cultural heritage is as rich and some of the best examples are the Shokouhi, Kolahdouz ha and Aghai ha Houses.
The technical knowledge behind the design of this desert architecture is so rich that we are slowly discovering it: how did the wind towers really function and how can we adapt them to today’s needs, what was the real function of the colored glasses used in windows, what were the real functions of the well and interior basins? In an analysis of the Abbassi House in Kashan I have pointed out some of these sustainable design features. (article in M&S No 39)
To me it is important not to be mystified by the calculations of mechanical and electrical engineers, and try to incorporate into architectural design the other disciplines which affect architecture so deeply, from mechanical and electrical design to choice of materials and achieve an integrated building – yek parcheh – the way the old Ostad Memars would practice.
© Interviewed by 2A Magazine, 2015