"Architecture & Urbanism"
Ferdowsi Garden, Tehran, Iran (1997)
Architect: Bafte-Shahr Consulting Architects & Urban Planners,
Qolam Reza Pasban Hazrat
Landscape: Farhad Abol-Zia
Since 1950s, fast population growth in Tehran has created huge
pressure for land on which to build, resulting in the destruction of
many of the public and private gardens that once graced the city. As
part of a wider range of measures to limit urban sprawl, Tehran
Municipality has supported efforts to protect the natural
environment of Alborz Mountains that form the city's northern
perimeter. During the late 1970s, a 12-hectare park, Jamshidieh
Stone Garden, was created at the foot of the mountains. It proved to
be highly popular.
In 1992, the Municipality commissioned the park's architects,
Bafte-Shahr Consulting Architects and Urban Planners, to prepare a
wider study for the outlying areas north of Tehran. The first part
of the study to be implemented was a 30-hectare park, Ferdowsi
Garden, set in series of sleeps, south-facing gullies scattered with
lose rocks and boulders. To assess the site's potential, the design
team camped there for a month, and their design emerged, to a large
extent, from the natural topography.
The primary intervention is a series of stone-pave paths and steps
that rise up the hill, providing views over the city. Along these
paths, areas for sitting, refreshment and entertainment have been
created within the natural topography, including four cultural
houses, built to represent the distinctive style of Iran's Azeri,
Kurd, Turkmen and Zagros ethnic groups. The paths ultimately lead to
a sculpture garden, being developed to the east and hiking trails
into the upper valleys.
The routes explore a number of themes, both cultural and natural.
The entry point is a paved open space dominated by a statue of
Ferdowsi (940-1020), Iranian epic poet, after whom the park is
named. From this space, a wide stepped pathway forms a "Cascade
Passage", which branches into a network of routes across the
site, bordered by a variety of indigenous plants, chosen for their
form, color and suitability in the environment. Between the paved
paths, copses the trees have been planted to provide shade and color
during the changing seasons.
The primary material is rough-hewn stone, collected from the site or
quarried from higher up the mountain ridge. Retaining walls and
terraces have been constructed in undulating patterns, according to
the size and shape of the stones, minimizing cutting, and many large
boulders have been made into focal points for spaces along the
routes. In a number of places, outcroppings of rock have been
imaginatively sculpted into forms such as fish, lizards and bears,
creating and environment, where respect for nature can be playfully
developed among the young.
In the design of the four cultural houses, traditional materials and
forms reflect the way of life of the groups represented. Red stone
was brought in from Azerbaijan for "Azeri House"; the
"Zagros House" takes the form of an open-sided nomadic
tent, while "Turkmen Cultural House" comprises a series of
circular spaces with distinctive domed roofs, derived from
Water is one of the main organizing elements in traditional gardens.
With no natural source of water available on the site, the designers
ingeniously created water channels that lead from drinking fountains
in the public spaces. Lighting is another important aspect of the
design, with all of the principal paths to the summit illuminated by
pole-mounted lights. The distinctive patterns made by the lights
against the slopes of Alborz Mountains are now a landmark for the
The project, which was completed in 1997, enjoys great popularity
and has had a direct and positive impact on the city, alleviating
pressure for the development on the slopes of the Alborz Mountains
and creating an environment, where people, nature and culture
thrive. An imaginative reinterpretation of the traditional Persian
"Paradise" garden adopted to modern needs, Ferdowsi
Garden, pays testimony to the importance of environmental design
within the overall process of urban development.