Modern heritage

Sunday 19 Jan 2014

Taj Residential, designed by London-based Kamvari Architects, consists of 160,000 sq ft of mixed-use development situated to the north-east of Tehran

The housing market in Iran and, in particular in Tehran, has been subject to the many price fluctuations in the country, with land and rental values thought to have surged by around 81% and almost 245%, respectively, over the past few years. This has meant that the housing market has remained buoyant despite all the recent economical difficulties.

When the client approached Kamvari Architects with this project, one of the fundamental questions which the firm had to consider was how to create housing for the 21st century without losing touch with Iran's rich architectural heritage. The practice's approach was to use the best of traditional Iranian architecture in terms of performance and connect this with modern design sensibilities and methods.

The starting point for this proposal was, as with many of the firm's schemes, to take the simplest form possible. In this case, this was a linear bar situated on the northern boundary of the site, upon which the architects were able to build.

The proposal in its current form begins to create both communal and public amenity spaces which are almost forgotten in many new residential developments. The current approach in Tehran seems to be that of maximising the building footprint on site, something which the firm enthusiastically argued against. In this particular case, the architects were able to outline the benefits associated with including open public and shared spaces to the client through a series of models and diagrams.

The proposal creates open public space to the northern boundary while maintaining street and urban views. The residential blocks which cantilever above the retail podium are derived from splitting the initial liner block into two and rotating these out to create separate blocks.

This operation allowed the firm to explore and optimise the orientation of each building to meet privacy and performance needs. A further level of control was added through the variation of the depth of glazing elements. Through analytical tools, Kamvari were able to highlight the issues surrounding orientation and solar gains; a simple variation on opening depths allowed them to control and mitigate this issue. On the southern façade, which is exposed to harsh sunlight, openings are placed deeper within the floor plate and as the exposure decreases to the north, so do the depth of the openings, allowing sunlight to be maximised where possible.

The project aims to connect a history of performance in Iran with modern strategies of design and, in doing so, create higher design standards within a housing market which at the moment does not consider design and architecture valuable in any shape or form.

The firm will continue with the development of this project in 2014.




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