A new paradigm of the Tower; a new paradigm of Urban Space
Bahram Shirdel director of Shirdel and Partners Consulting Architects, established in Tehran, formerly practiced in London as Shirdel and Kipnis Architects,an architectural firm which started in Los Angeles, California as Aks- Runo. This practice has engaged in a variety of specialized and prestigious projects in U.S.A., Japan, China, Brazil, Canada, Iran, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Venezuela, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Taiwan and Denmark where their theories and research has been applied to the spatial organization of large and complex projects.
Formerly Bahram Shirdel has been the director of graduate design program at the Architectural Association of London and has taught design and theory at Harvard University, Sci-Arch and other universities worldwide. He is a recipient of Christopher Wren medal from Canada and CGA gold medal from the People’s Republic of China. Bahram Shirdel’s projects for city of Venice have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale for Architecture, 1984. His project for Nara has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, N.Y.
Export Development Bank of Iran
Tehran Iran 1997
Principal Architect: Bahram Shirdel
Project Architect: Reza Daneshmir
Design Team: Pedram Shokati, Shahin Tavana, Parastou Ziayee,Sahand Ahmadian, Hessamedin Fana
Structure Engineer: Abdolhossein Jelveh
View of the entrance lobby and the atrium
Interior of open office space
Interior of open office space
Shiraz Central Business District Gateway
Shiraz Iran 2005
Principal Architect: Bahram Shirdel
Project Architect: Kaveh Najafian
Project Manager: Ali Kermanian
Design Team: Farzad Akhavan, Mahmoud Bagherzadeh,Ali Kashanidoust, Behrang Eghbali, Ramin Shirdel, Sahand Ahmadian, Ramin Raof, Hessamedin Fana, Azadeh Zaferani, Mohammad Ekhlassi
Engineers: Seyyed Rasoul Mirghaderi (structural); Soheila Riyahi (mechanical); Emadedin Mardani (traffic)
Transverse section Diagonal section
Perspective view of shopping mall atriums that leads to the public garden
The high- rise building by definition is large and complex. The significance of this large scale is about the great height and mass of a construction that defines the space of the contemporary city. There is a long tradition of architectural design concerned with the form of the high-rise building in shaping the city skyline, which in turn may describe the identity of the city. However the spatial experience of urban space, shaped by high-rises is not conducive to public space, and has remained limited to the street level, there remains to be no spatial relationship elsewhere between the tower and urban space culminating into activities of public domain. The concept of high-rise building as tower: the extruded geometrical volume displaces urban space.
Early 20th century, the architectural plan was the generator of the form of the high-rise building. And late 20th century, the main issue of the contemporary high-rise building design was the whole architectural section. The 21st century which its architectural ideas have been contemplated, theorized and practiced since the last twenty years, a new paradigm for high-rise buildings has been formed; one that has a new social agenda and that produces urban space. The diagrams of Eisenman (Max Reinhardt Haus) and Koolhas (CCTV Tower) and Jean Nouvel (Gazprom City) are high-rise buildings which their architectural concepts have come away from the traditional tower paradigm that displaces urban space and deal with diagrams enabling towers to create urban space. This is a new urban space previously unseen.
In 1997 Shirdel and Partners architects and urban designers submitted a proposal for the headquarter offices of the Export Development Bank of Iran. We designed the EDBI building on the designated parcel of land situated in the Abbas Abad area of Tehran; a master development defined for all the new headquarters of government agencies, a new area devoid of any urban context, but with the potential of a great number of high-rises to come. In order to create an identity for the new bank and its mission for the economics of export in the country and the role of the high-rise building to create urban space in a new area of urban development, we chose to employ a complex diagram rather than the design method of extrusion of geometrical solids. Out of the cusp (one of the mathematical equations of the fold) we made a diagram which enabled the design to become a cohesive heterogeneous architecture providing a high degree of flexibility and allowing difference for the programmatic requirements and the symbolic identity of the new financial institution with a different agenda, that of export. The building creates a vast field of urban space allowing for possibilities that organize heterogeneous spatial conditions for the urban context of the development and the formation of space for the urbanity of the other buildings for the future of the development.
This becomes a vast urban space, formed by the architectural diagram in the totality of its scale (not limited to the foot of the tower; street level plaza) as the building projects this voids outside itself (diagram 1). In turn these voids form a condition of a new paradigm in the categories of public space of the metropolis, which is morphed by the new paradigm of the high-rise building. Designing a high-rise building which articulates urban space leading to create public space in the future of an urban development is seeking a reinstatement of the expressive power of architecture underlying its cultural role.
In 2005 we were asked to design a landmark building for the development of the new central business district of the city of Shiraz. Shiraz is an important historical city with a well defined spatial organization, combined by a specific geometrical space and topography, and a series of well planned Persian gardens which create a unique urban zone that further define the unique urbanism of the city. The site is the intersection of the river, the historical garden zone and the main east-west thoroughfare of the city. In order to capture the legendary space of Shiraz and the historical garden zone, and a landmark as a gateway to the development of the CBD, we devised a double loop system that could create a world unto itself, and at the same time open to and reflect the multi-spatial urbanism of the city.
Shopping mall, an office tower, a residential tower, a health and fitness center, restaurants and video & audio technology; a heterogeneous program that is organized in a loop form to ease circulation and the flexibility of the services. The second loop entirely formed out of public spaces inside the high-rise complex, but connected and continued from the multifaceted urban space of the city; consisting of two separate atriums, acting as grand public interiors on the ground level, as the atrium moves upwards, their two separate spaces become one and open up to a garden located above the mall. This is a public garden which in turn connects on two sides to the atriums of the office tower and that of the residential tower. The atriums connected on top, completing the public space loop at the observation deck which views the city and mountains that create the geographical landscape of the city. This double loop configuration provides a complete urban feature for the high-rise buildings, city within the city, describing the heterogeneous program and providing the high-rise as the extension of the public domain.
The spatial organization or rather the “idea of space” in this project (diagram 2) i
s organized around an axial paradigm within the tradition of the architectural culture of Iran, creating a spatial experience in accordance to the tectonic space of the gardens and the city, making the open garden above the voids of the interior the central space of the project since that is the most public part of the project, making the CBD Gateway open and transparent. The double loop system capable of interconnecting the public and private spaces also creates a great urban void that sets up a vast urban space (diagram 3) throughout the CBD, while completing an axial connection between the Quran gateway and the Boshehr gate placing the CBD Gateway building as a participant in the spatial organization of the city.
The architecture of high-rise building paying greater attention to the life of the city, brings the public activity, higher than the ground level, throughout all levels: the middle zone and to the top, extending the activities of the city public domain throughout the high-rise structure. A recognition that the high-rise building is integrated with the permeable fabric of the city and the public activity that generates from it.