Pouya Khazaeli Parsa belongs to a generation of young architects who played a role in last decade's progressive movement, the knowledge of which allows us to better understand the work presented here. The most authentic cultural ferment that has occurred in Iran over the last 50 years concerned diverse artistic and cultural sectors (cinema, literature, painting, music, theater, architecture, etc.).
It may seem paradoxical, but just when the country's closure policy is at its most extreme, intellectuals, artists and writers in Iran have played a greater role on the international cultural scene. Whether they practice at home or abroad, many Iranian architects - men and women such as Farshid Moussavi, Mehrdad Yazdani, Hadi and Nader Tehrani, the Hariri sisters, Bahram Shirdel, Nasrin Seraji, Daneshmir Reza, Abbas Riahifard - have enjoyed international recognition.
There are many young architects who are from 30-40 years old working in Iran, creating works of great architectural interest. Despite the country's bureaucratic, economic and technological difficulties, these achievements are comparable to those published in the international architecture journals. The cultural movement's driving force is the determination of Iran's most educated class to emerge from their shell to communicate with the outside world.For this reason, Iranians use any means available to help bring their message to the world. It is no coincidence that Persian is the fourth most-used language on the Internet.
University students devour the few international bibliographic resources available to them and spend large amounts of time online to explore trends and projects and to participate in international competitions. The numerous architectural magazines in the country have been instrumental in creating this link between the architectural scene and the outside world. For these reasons, the new generation of architects has decided to break with the rhetorical and historicist state architecture, devoid of creativity, imposed by state organizations which not only control infrastructure projects and public services (hospitals, schools, universities), but also hotels, cinemas, cultural centers, industries, etc. Young people started with small buildings, like houses, condominiums and offices for private clients. Then, seeing the results, even public administrators appreciated the skills of "disobedient" youth awrding them commissions for some important public projects (cinemas, museums, libraries, schools, etc.).
Over the past five years, at the same time that relative openness towards young people was coming about, we noticed their increased attention towards local culture and traditions. Young people, while remaining within the confines of contemporary architecture, have utilized local culture to diversify on the international scene to create projects with a touch of originality.
The young Iranian architect, Pouya Khazaeli Parsa, works within this context; with four independent projects, of which only two are actual buildings, he has already won four major awards and appeared in numerous local and international magazines.
Khazaeli Parsa's first built work, which appeared in Domus (No. 906, September 2007), was a Corbu-inspired villa in Mazandaran (an Iranian region on the Caspian Sea). The second project was a bamboo hut built with a budget of less than € 1000, influenced by the time spent in Shigeru Ban's office before going off on his own. The project appeared in Domus (Bamboo Structure, No. 927, July / August 2009) and was awarded first prize by the architectural journal, Memar, in the same year.
His latest project is single-family weekend home located in the Darvishabad village (also on the Caspian Sea).
This is an "object" house, which respects the rules of international minimalist architecture, but also establishes a subtle connection with the local architectural tradition and the traditional Iranian house. The sensitivity to the architecture of the region is also evident from the fact that the building is raised above ground on four columns to prevent absorption of moisture from the soil. In this case, the architect, with the simple act of planting the columns of a house along the orthogonal axes of the square plan, avoids a banal reproduction of the native hut with corner columns.
The living space is organized around a void represented by a glass "funnel" that captures sunlight and brings it to the center of the house. Khazaeli Parsa argues that this is inspired by Iran's traditional architecture, where most spaces are organized around a void called "hayat" (central courtyard or patio). The living area is accessed by a straight and narrow staircase, which emphasizes the open space of the house, divided mainly by movable partitions. Thus the space maintains the flexibility typical of traditional houses in which the main functions (sleeping, eating and spending time together) can occur in different places depending on the season or time of day.
The roof is used as an extension of domestic space, another reference to the Persian homes. This kind of courtyard is not open to the surrounding context, but is enclosed by a high wall leaving only a view of the sky. In this way, the family's privacy is not disturbed from prying eyes and the terrace space simulates the intimacy of the central courtyards of traditional houses.
This small work by Khazaeli Parsa is representative of the route taken by many young Iranian architects in search of their indigenous, and, at the same time, international identity. Kamran Afshar Naderi
Villa in Darvishabad, Iran
Architect: Pouya Khazaeli Parsa
Localisation: Darvishabad, Mazandaran, Iran
Client: Nastaran Shahbazi
Structural engineering: Peyman Khezri
Photos: Mohsen Jazayeri, Mehrdad Emrani
Film: Mehrdad Emrani
Site area: 400 sqm
Total floor area: 240 sqm
Completion: October 2010