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Commemorating Architect Day
By Negin Motamed
negin@tehranavenue.com
May 2010
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Twenty-second of March was designated Architect Day after the 1979 Revolution to honor one of the giants of Iranian architecture, {Sheikh Bahaii}; but this day was only marked on the calendar without corresponding events to highlight it.

This year (2010), however, a group of concerned architects decided to commemorate Architect Day on their own. They organized a gathering outside Tehran's ARTISTS FORUM on 21 March. Since the date also coincided with Clean Earth Day organizers prepared canvas shopping bags to show their commitment to environmental causes. A petition was also prepared for participating architects to sign.

A lively group held red roses in their hands or on the lapels and there was a podium to invite participants to offer their views to others.

But what are we to expect after this event? The reality is that even if we give more publicity to this day and emphasize the importance of architects and city planners in shaping our urban environment, such events would have little consequences outside a small circle. So long as an architect is someone who sells his/her trade to power and money, his/her skills and knowledge will be in the service of uncontrolled, aimless and unhealthy constructions. Architect Day is named after an individual (Sheikh Bahaii) whose status as an architect/city planner -- other than his tracts on astronomy, mathematics, poetry and philosophy -- is as luminescent as NAQSH-E JAHAN Square in Esfahan, which is, in and of itself, a monument to his grandeur; the IMAM MOSQUE, which is a masterpiece of design, and his legendary BATHHOUSE, which is one of the high watermarks of sustainable architecture in the world. And these are only some of his better-known landmarks.

Should architects be concerned about the state of architecture, they have no other choice but to say "No" to many projects that have destroyed agricultural and wooded lands in northern Iran, sheared the mountainsides of northern Tehran, and razed the green areas of the city to impose unsightly and unstable structures on the city's visage. Architects have no other choice than to follow the principles of Sheikh Bahaii in respecting the earth and the habitat of all creatures -- and not only humans -- just in the same way that the network of waterways, known as Maadis, in the city of Esfahan is an example of deference to water, earth and habitat.

By following their inner conscience and reminding themselves of time-worn principles, architects can celebrate Architect Day every day of the year and in every city, village or even plains and forests -- with the absence of construction. We need to believe in this saying of {Mahatma Gandhi} that "We need to be the change that we wish to see in the world."



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