The issue of urbanism in the Middle East has over the recent passed been of great importance and a hot topic within architectural discussions.
With cities in the region literally emerging from the sands of desserts into metropolitan cities capable of containing millions of inhabitant in a relatively short period of time the question of Architecture and urbanism has come to the foreground just as rapidly as the emerging cities.
With the regions rich history in creating and maintaining urban centres with fine examples of architecture over many thousands of years , the balance between the old and tested and the new and exciting is of great importance within the current development.
Iran and Oman two of the countries caught in this battle for very different reasons are the subject of the Architectural Association visiting school programme.
The Academic programmes although different will over the next 3-4 years attempt to deliver a number of research agendas and experiments which will hopefully act as a catalyst to inform Architecture and urban Planning issues in their respective countries.
Tehran visiting school
Manja van de Worpe
Theodore Sarantoglou lalis
Hamid Reza Ansari
Atec Consulting Engineers
The Association of Mass Developers(Iran)
In recent years Iran has emerged as a cultural and economic hub within the Middle East; with its illustrious history in architecture it offers a fertile ground for research and investigation into a number of topics ranging from manufacturing to urbanism. Tehran, its capital city, has become a major laboratory for contemporary cultural production in terms of architecture and has recently undergone massive changes to its infrastructure and urban boundaries to cater for expansion.
Iran has an estimated population of 71 million with 12 million of these inhabitants residing in its capital city Tehran. With such a large population occupying a relatively small space issues relating the urbanism have become a major chokehold in development within the city. Further statistics which indicate that two thirds of Iran’s population are under the age of 30 contribute further to the worries in regards to expansion and sprawl.
With housing shortages and the projected increase in population Iran is at a critical stage in its development into a world city.
The Architectural association school of architecture has began a visiting school programme which up to date has conducted programmes in 17 different countries, Iran and Tehran forms one part of this programme.
The intention of this school is to begin an educational programme which will eventually lead to question and re examination of processes that contribute to the growth of Tehran. The workshop begins at a small scale understanding and using historical precedents to drive design which can be rationalized in terms of simple means of manufacturing or “Manufacturing Simplexites”
This year’s school aimed to investigate algorithmic design through simple means of manufacturing using prototyping as its main vehicle for exploration at the smaller scale. These investigations are intended to grow in scale over the next few years to explore issues relating to the city and its urbanism.
This workshop and educational programme is of great importance to Iran and its Architectural future, its serves as a means of reconnecting it to the world and allowing expertise of different kind to be exchanged between Iran and other interested countries. The skills and understanding developed over the course of this workshop will without doubt begin to influence architecture and urbanism within Iran over the next few years. The completion of an educational programme which allows professional and students to work side by side on projects allowing a certain amount of cross fertilisation of skills and tools, creating a new mode of thinking will be a major contributor to the future of Iran and Tehran.
The new Mode of thinking generated through the works of these workshops will transfer into the working environments and will begin to shape and form policies and strategies for the future.
Muscat AA Visiting School 19th February 4th March 2011
AA_ Programme Director
Omid Kamvari, Architectural Association, London (www.aaschool.ac.uk)
Nikolaus Knebel, German University of Technology in Oman, Muscat (www.gutech.edu.om)
Oman has been careful and farsighted in its approach to development. With regard to recent events in the region this approach has proven to be a successful model. Massive increase in population, decrease of fossil resources, climate change, change of life-styles, change of economic foundations, extended tourism – are all part of an increasing set of parameters set to challenge Oman’s approach to development.
Urbanization sits at the centre of these parameters, in this scenario the search for an environmentally and culturally appropriate architecture and urbanism in Oman is one of the most important ventures.
In order to develop theoretical as well as practical contributions for this discourse in Oman the workshop will have a methodological focus on patterns. Patterns are seen as a means of translating the performance, not only the appearance of historical structures into new concepts. Heuristic and algorithmic thinking as well as advanced computational methods will be introduced as a means of investigating patterns and developing new solutions. These solutions will also take into consideration aspects relating to manufacturing, assembly and constructability.
The aim here is to apply these solution to various scales from facades and buildings to cities and regions.
The Muscat Visiting School February 2011 is the first of three workshops held in cooperation between the Architectural Association, London, and the German University of Technology in Oman, Muscat.
Tehran Visiting School_ July 2011
Muscat Visiting School_ February 2011
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