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Pooyan Ruhi : Making an audience - stories of resistance & transgression (November 16, 2023)01:13:41

After Jonathan Chan’s introduction, Pooyan Ruhi notes that between his first book –“Narratives of the avant-garde” (2014) – and his most recent book – “Against ideology – an escape plan for architecture” (2023) – he has been engaged in architecture in Iran in a variety of ways besides writing, editing and translating, including teaching, practice and organizing public events.

Ruhi outlines Iranian architecture culture circa 2013, when he began his work. He characterizes the pedagogy of the government-run schools of architecture as “massification” (Paulo Freire) rather than education, employing Beaux-arts traditions plus phenomenology, contextualism, and environmental design. Imagination was not discussed, and “formalism” equaled superficiality. There was a profession, but no discipline.

He describes how the curriculum for the School of Architecture at the University of Tehran was established in 1940 by Andre Godard, an École des Beaux-Arts graduate.

Ruhi described different architectures that emerged during Iran’s since the 1930s:
•Combining historical motifs with Beaux-arts monumentality, as in the Police building (Mirza Alikhan Mehendes, 1933) and Courthouse of Tehran (Gabriel Guevrekian, 1946)
•International Style: Houses 67 & 68, Werkbund exhibition (Gabriel Guevrekian, 1930), Tehran museum of contemporary art (Kamran Diba, 1977) and the second “International Congress of Architecture” held in 1974 at Persepolis.
•Historicist post-modernism: Armita office tower (Behrouz Ahmadi, 1997) and Dezful Cultural Center (Farhad Ahmadi, 1987)

Ruhi argues that a decisive event for post-revolutionary architecture in Iran was Bahram Shirdel establishing his office in Tehran in 1997. He detects his influence in a range of contemporary works:
•Sharifi-ha house, (Alireza Taghaboni / Next Office Architects, 2014)
•Guyim vault house (Alireza Taghaboni / Next Office Architects, 2018)
•Golfam office building (Catherine Spiridonoff & Reza Daneshmir / Fluid Motion Architects, 2012)
•Mellat Park cineplex (Catherine Spiridonoff & Reza Daneshmir / Fluid Motion Architects, 2008)
•Vali-e-Asr mosque (Catherine Spiridonoff & Reza Daneshmir / Fluid Motion Architects, 2018)

Ruhi describes how he modeled his intervention into Iranian architecture culture after architects like Alberti, Philibert de l”Orme, and Peter Eisenman – designers who shaped architectural discourse through books. His own books published in Iran include an oral history started in the Design Theory and Pedagogy program – “Paperless studio and Columbia under Bernard Tschumi” (2018), followed by ….
•“Peter Eisenman: essays, interviews, debates” (2020)
•“Architecture and object-oriented ontology” (2021)
•“The domain of paint : the work of Elena Manferdini” (2023)
•And an upcoming series of interviews with Bahram Shirdel

At the same time, he has written books in English for children:
•“Young Frank, Architect” (“Frank Viva”, 2013)
•“Architecture according to pigeons” (“Speck Lee Tailfeather”, 2013)

And publishing online: for example, an extended examination of the Jadgal school (Arash Alibadi, 2017).

Ruhi uses his opportunities to teach in Iran to introduce design software, digital fabrication tools, and novel design methodologies. In 2019 he co-organized an exhibition and symposium on architecture and film. He sees his role as encouraging students and young architects to be brave and ask, “Why?”

At 52:58, Ruhi is joined by Iman Ansari for a discussion of issues raised by his talk.

From the Media ArchiveMedia archive link