Architectural Association’s Tehran Visiting School
Tehran, Iran’s capital, ranks among the world’s fast-growing cities. In the early 1940s, Tehran’s population was about 700,000. By 1966, it had risen to 3 million and by 1986 to 6 million. Today, the metropolitan area has more than 10 million residents. This explosive growth has had environmental and public health consequences, including air, water pollution and the loss of arable land and the public realm. The ever-increasing land value makes developments and the replacement of urban open space an easy choice. With the disappearance of the open public plaza, by traffic islands and motorways the predominant public space left in the city is its many traffic arteries. With a young population and the Cars as the main mode of transport in the city, the many highways of Tehran come to a grinding halt during rush hour. Current solutions put forward to ease congestion have been to increase traffic capacities through the construction of more highways. A prime example is the construction of a SECOND tier to Sadr highway traveling east to west in Tehran. With this mentality and more projects being conceived at closer proximity to homes and residential areas despite the understanding that such solution can only resolve this issue in the short term, our challenge in this course was to examine the possibilities of leftover spaces and the potential for augmentation and reuse of such infrastructure in the future.
Sadr Expressway is a freeway in northern Tehran, Iran. This freeway runs west from the Modarres Expressway in Gholhak neighborhood east through Gheytarieh, Doulat, Darrous, Chizar, and Ekhtiariyeh, at which point it crosses Pasdaran Avenue and becomes Babayi Expressway. This is a very interesting feature of this highway. That one can have a cross-section view of the city traveling in this highway. By observing the events in, and around the highway, thinking about characteristics of the surrounding spaces, and of the bridge itself, analyzing the changes that building the second tier caused, we came to this conclusion that despite the fact that this structure produced a lot of undefined, unused and leftover spaces in its context, it at least provides some height. As an example, on the Shariati street junction with Sadr highway, we have great views even under the second level in different directions. This quality is not limited to a specific location or spot. This is a dynamic potential that exists in every point within the path of this structure. The approach of this project is to use these kinds of potentials and create a right dialogue between the infrastructure, people and the city. The main intention is to turn it to an inseparable part of a city that have connections with people in different levels, in a way that gives people what they’ve lost and provides some solutions for other existing problems. To reach that goal, the site location selected for the primary studies of the project is the void volume between two tiers of the highway.
The main argument of the project was to create the right dialogue between the infrastructure and its context. The main idea was to use the void volume and create a system, that provides public transportation, recovers the view that people lost, create public spaces and deals with the pedestrian issues. The concept was not to have public spaces and transportation system next to each other but to combine the two in a way that people’s public spaces become their public transportation as well. To simulate the experience of being in the vague situation that project suggests, a machine was fashioned and built, which helps to convey the message of the proposal more clearly.