Behshahr Home Office (currently Ministry of Education) — Tehran, Iran
Nader Ardalan with AFFA
The Owners of the Behshahr Company were a well-known family from Kashan that I had grown up with and they had their Tehran offices originally in the Bazaar in a Timcheh type space. When I was commissioned in 1971 to design their home offices, I just transferred the spatial concept of a Timcheh into a Caravanserai courtyard space, but made it composed of two courtyards inside one another by stepping one courtyard down, as inspired by the Madrasah/Mosque of Agha Bozorg in Kashan. The positive space of the shaded garden court with its central pool of water generated a quiet, cool micro-climate that was well adapted to the buildings’ context within the noisy, hot, arid downtown of Tehran. The ontological spiral of water flowing from the central fountain designed by my great sculptor friend, Karl Schlamminger of Tehran/Munich, is made of Lucite and stainless steel- yet is both sublime and modern. Similarly, the outer shell of the Behshahr building is a resultant of the expanding inner space of the central courtyard realized in concrete cantilevers. The structural and materiality of the building came from the fact that I had recently introduced to Iran in 1968 the Pre-cast concrete industrial building technology (Shock-Beton from Holland). This system allowed modularity, open spans and the scale of a modern office building, but evoked an Iranian sense of Placemaking.