Mashhad—home to the shrine of the 8th Imam of Shiites—is one of the most significant religious sites in Iran. It attracts many more visitors than the holy city of Mecca; almost 10 times as many per year. Given the economic and political power of the religious authorities in Iran, as tourism and travel overtake all industries around the world, Mashhad becomes the center of investment and development in this country.
The obvious need for accommodation and entertainment of the visitors has lead to major decisions in the recent Master Plan of the city. The Master Planning Vision has shifted from the strategy of isolation of the shrine via a green belt to a strategy of reconnection via boulevards. These boulevards are lined with large scale buildings with pilgrim accommodation and shopping as major functions. The site of the competition is located on one of the three main boulevards and acts as one of the three gateways to the religious site.
Competition site in Mashhad, Iran
The competition called for entries for a 5-star hotel, hotel apartments, residential spaces, commercial spaces, a public park and a multi-story public parking in a development of about 80,000 m2. The site consists of 5 plots, however the brief allows for and the master plan of the city encourages the project to merge the 5 sites into one.
Diagram of the area around the shrine
The competition was held by an architecture office; The Eight Company. The client was a private Iranian bank- Bank-e Pasargad. Of the twelve teams invited to the competition, 4 had been widely known foreign office associates (Atelier Bow-Wow from Japan, BIG from Denmark, BRT from Germany and Guallart Architects from Spain).
The Jury was composed of architects and developers from the city of Mashhad and prominent Iranian architects from the Association of Iranian Architects, including Iraj Kalantari, Abolfath Sepanloo, along with Seyed Reza Hashemi. Of the remaining 11 entries from 8 participating offices, 3 winners and 2 honorable mentions were awarded. The three winners of first to third place will be awarded monetary prizes. In addition, the first place winner will be awarded a contract to execute the project.
First Place: BRT Engineering GmbH (Germany) + Design Core [4s] Architects (Iran)
First Prize in the Mashhad Competition for BRT Engineering GmbH (Germany) + Design Core [4s] Architects (Iran)
Iran: Sam Tehranchi, Maryam Kompany, Ali Nabi
Germany: Hadi Tehrani, Ingo Hartfil, Heike Heister, Alice Pape, Manal Fakhouri, Zarko Serafimowski, Evgeny Stolyarov
Structure: Markus Maier, Angelos Tsirigotis from LAP
The formal concept of the building results from stipulated building lines and construction heights in addition to site axis and road alignments. Thus, it creates a monolithic shape that follows the heterogeneous character of the plot in a subtle way.
A continuous band folds down on one end and defines a gateway toward the Holy Shrine while enclosing the block. Its continuity and elongated form emphasizes the direction along the main northern boulevard toward the religious site.
Public, semi- public and private spaces are created within the curves and folds of the structure. Thus a variety of public spaces, from loud and lively to spaces of reflection are created that respond to the brief. The shape of the building, defines an entry to the quiet courtyard in the back. This courtyard is planted with tall trees and water features which emphasize its peaceful character. With the access to the cafÃ©, and controlled entry via a water feature, it provides a quiet space to linger in.
The hotel is located in a prominent space along the eastern main road on top of the building and defines its presence on the main intersection. It has a central lobby within a glass envelope that is equally accessed from the crossroad and the courtyard.
The residential is located in the western wing of the building. It is an independent part of the complex; technically, statically and functionally it is self-sufficient and can be constructed and operated individually.
Commercial spaces are located on the ground and first floors along the main northern boulevard as well as around the courtyard and form a pedestal for the building. An arcade runs around the pedestal in front of the shops on all sides and allows visitors to stroll around the building throughout the year.
Second Place: Bonsar Architecture Office (Iran), Guallart Architects (Spain), Delnaz Yekrangian (Iran)
(Mohamad Majidi, Vicente Guallart, Delnaz Yekrangian)
Second Prize in the Mashhad Competition for Bonsar Architecture Office (Iran), Guallart Architects (Spain), Delnaz Yekrangian (Iran)
Design Team: Azar Farshidi, Vicente Guallart, Mehran Haghbin, Zahra Khaniki, Mohammad Majidi, Mehrnush Safdari, Hossein Salavati Khoshghalb, Delnaz Yekrangian
Structure: Mehdi Mirkhosravi
Sustainibility: Afsaneh Tafazoli
Renderings: Babak Taghikhani
A 5-star hotel, hotel apartments and a residential complex merge with a commercial center that contains in addition to shopping, opportunities for cultural, educational, health and religious promenades not only to accommodate but also to entertain the visitors. In a city where stroll in the city is the main tourist activity next to pilgrimage, the possibility of a stroll within the complex becomes a necessity.
Eight gardens within the project with individual characteristics defined by their location, activities, or their particular vegetation connected via public spaces compose this promenade as an extension of the city within the project. The strategy of the linked gardens provides an opportunity to combine pleasure with sustainability. The openness of the project and its permeability make natural light and ventilation accessible everywhere inside.
The structure of the building is derived from a decorative motif found on the entry courtyard to the Shrine. The decorative calligraphy is exaggerated in scale and defines the entire building. The interpretation is done in a subtle way to avoid an iconic presence for the project which tries to pay homage to the only icon of the city; the holy Shrine of Imam Reza.
The Zarih and the readings of it done by contemporary Iranian artists, in particular Tanavoli are inspiration for the simple orthogonal faÃ§ades.
Third Place: Fluid Motion Architects
(Catherine Spiridonoff â€“ Reza Daneshmir)
Third Prize in the Mashhad Competition for Fluid Motion Architects (Catherine Spiridonoff â€“ Reza Daneshmir)
Design Team: Pouria Khodaeiani, Mohsen Tajeddin, Ehsan Hasanpour, Mehdi Bakhshizadeh, Ahmad Khosravi ,Avideh Kamrani, Bahareh Alaei
Structure: Hooman Farrokhi
Mechanical & Electrical: Mohammad Reza Ghoddusizadeh
The project begins with an evaluation of the 5 sites- that all together form the L-shaped site- based on geometry, views and sound pollution. Then it dedicates the briefâ€™s different programs to each site. The plat along the main boulevard and away from the crowded intersection is dedicated to the 5-star hotel. The middle plat to the apartment hotel, the plat along the east boulevard to residential and the other plats are dedicated to the park and the multi-floor public parking, according to the brief.
Considering the similarity among the platsâ€™ functions, the necessity of harmony in the project composition and in order to make an effective urban character, the design process is developed as below:
- First, the potential occupied area and the demanded gross area of buildings on each plat, and the over-all massing are determined according to the brief and the master plan codes.
- The permitted ground area and masses to build for each complex are extracted from the L-shaped site and transformed into an unshaped abstract and generic form.
- The ground plate and the generic abstract form are sliced by the lines defining entrances and opening areas, and again revamped to the initial form.
The idea of a continuous wall, containing the 5-star hotel and small apartment units, is developed in a twisted form along the 3 plats of the site. The entrances and the inner courts emerge from the rotations and fractures of the wall. The wall, in addition to the variety in form, gives a distinctive urban identity to the project. All in all, the wall and the opening areas of the complex are connected to each other via the slicing lines, providing a single continuous landscape.
The first and second floors are dedicated to commercial and public activities as the codes demand these functions projected on the northern Boulevard. As a result, the 5-star hotel and the commercial spaces are connected and tied together on the first floor via two separated ramps, one emerging from the interior space of the hotel and the other from the outdoor space.
Honorable Mention: RAVAND-E-HAMAHANG [LINK] (Iran) + BIG (Denmark)
Honorable Mention in the Mashhad Competition for RAVAND-E-HAMAHANG [LINK] (Iran) + BIG (Denmark)
Iran: Ali Hamidi Moghadam, Nima Farzaneh, Neda Heidary, Saina Majidi, Mahan Abolghasem Shirazi
Denmark: Bjarke Ingels, Doug A Stechschulte, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Kuba Snopek, Cat Huang, Gaetan Brunet, Takumi Iwasawa
What is a hotel?
An accumulation of rooms tailored for individual visitors.
To reach the required density and respond to the city codes, the two buildings are bent into two V-shaped volumes creating three triangular urban spaces: a sunken market, an open courtyard and a public park in the middle. To meet the demands and desires of individual guests, the hotel has been designed inside out. As a result each V-shaped slab is composed of a fish bone structure of rooms looking towards the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza.
Considering that the site of the project forms the eastern gateway to the urban area around the Holy Shrine, the project proposes a building that shelters the residences and public spaces from the unpleasant noise and the crowd on the main Boulevard while opening up towards the religious area. Moving towards the shrine, one experiences a closed and simple faÃ§ade respecting Mashhadâ€™s Holy icon. The scale of the wall is broken down; it is an accumulation of single rooms of different types based on a specific geometric pattern. Moving in the opposite direction, away from the shrine, one faces maximum transparency as the facades open up towards the holy site.
The complex is designed to provide each pilgrim or tourist with an optimal experience of the religious site. Each unit is sheltered from the traffic noise, screened from the views of neighbors and by-passers and only opens up toward the view of the shrine. The resulting architecture is simultaneously calm and varied, well integrated and outstanding, traditional and contemporary.
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