Iran's Tabiat Bridge architect shares Charles Correa's approach

Kolkata, March 3 (IANS) Iranian architect Leila Araghian, chief architect and designer of the award-winning Tabiat Bridge, the largest pedestrian overpass built in Tehran, says she always picks up something new from late Indian architect and urban planner Charles Correa's projects and shares his approach to serendipitous spaces.

"Whenever I visit his projects, I am never disappointed. I always learn something new. We share the same approach when it comes to serendipitous spaces and complex spaces, so there is always something new to discover. I also love the way in which he looks at the climate and his response to the very hot climate in India," Araghian told IANS here referring to her visit to City Centre, a mall designed by Correa.

About her vision, Araghian said she aims to designs spaces that are serendipitous in nature and the Tabiat Bridge is a reflection of that. In 2005, she co-founded Diba Tensile Architecture in Tehran, along with Alireza Behzadi, the first company specialized in the design, manufacture and installation of membrane structures in Iran.

The pedestrian bridge opened in 2014 and soon became one of the symbols of Tehran and a very successful public space. The 270-metre (890 ft) bridge connects two public parks - Taleghani and Abo-Atash - by spanning Shahid Modarres avenue, one of the main highways in northern Tehran. There are two continuous levels that sit on three tree shape columns and the structure incorporates seating areas and restaurants as well.

"Our idea was that this bridge has to reflect the character of the site at which it is built. It is located on a highway which is corridor to the north of Tehran. You see all the city and mountains in the background.

Its a unique view of the city which you dont have elsewhere, so it was a pity to just have a bridge that people only quickly pass through so we wanted to build a place for people to have come and fun, a leisure place that was pleasant enough to hangout," she said, explaining the motivation behind the curvy structure of the bridge.

Araghian was in the city to attend an architectural convention organised by Credai Bengal & Indian Institute of Architects (IIA).

Asked on the sanctions imposed on Iran and challenges in executing projects, Araghian said there were both pros and cons to it.

"During the sanction time, even still (though they say they are lifted) the money transaction is not simple as it is between the other countries. Still the banks are very reluctant in working with Iran. During the sanctions, for instance, we were going to purchase a software from Australia, and what happened was that it took three months for them to validate and verify. There were challenges and difficulties that at some point were solved but were slowing down the process. They were frustrating and taking up a lot of mental enegy and time to be resolved," she said.

However, Araghian also sees an opportunity.

"We started this new industry in our country where there were no international competitors so whenever there is an international project, we are the one, the first because there is no other international company which is willing to be in Iran," she added.