“Alternative” was a design-based research for a new solution to the problem of inflexible office space which is one of the most frequent typologies of Tehran. This is on many levels a multi-dimensional problem. On one hand the design is involved with the instantly changing needs of the user and the unpredictability of future functions; and on the other, the uneven durability of materials, facilities and claddings in layers of structure, service and the infill, respectively. Also considering the very high land price of this prominent office building, had already emphasized the obligation of designing a “usable” space. The plan came out of the act of conjoining two of the most problematic plan types of the building into one suitable office plan. The existing problem was a result of the inconveniences caused by the circular centric lobby plan and the rectangular typical grid of the structure. This had caused many issues such as plan complexity, unused corners, lack of day-lighting and also bad air conditioning. High degree of determination in plan design was the main culprit of all this problems. Also wrong orientation against the sun, made half of the offices of the whole building use annoying western sunlight.
Considering all of these issues, the design team chose a solution with a very low degree of certainty. Where the structure and the service layers build a highly determined necessity for the space, using a “Weak and Soft” infill layer could be of much help. A solution in which as much possibilities as possible could be considered, and at the same time a brand new display of structure and service is provided to make a contemporary design.
Regarding the project as a critical instrument for the existing architectural context was the key. While tearing down the existing masonry partitions and ceiling panels, the process elucidated the large extent of service problems and structural inconveniences which are normally hidden under the “cladding” layer. This in turn would systematically cover any other possibilities about the structure and the service facilities. So a huge potential of the whole space is ignored and the future changes would not be considered properly, despite the urging need for considering shorter life-cycles for office spaces; this highly certain and determined program would end the design at the very beginning. so this “surgical process” let us know more about the nature of the space and its potentials which in turn made us choose a range of transparent and semi-transparent materials and detail designs for the partitions and also the ceilings. This helped the design in order to emancipate the potentials of electrical and mechanical systems which was also embodied formally and was included in the design solution. This rather formal and visual use of the aforementioned service layers, was performed in order for the user to conceive the possible uses of the office. The use of stretched perforated metal panels for the ceilings and an exposed polished concrete floor as well as satin opaque glass walls, were both an effort for a contemporary design and a showcase for the client’s profession: A construction office.
The relationship between an architectural object and needs addressed by that, is an obscure one. On one hand it is a result of the creative process of the architect’s mind and on the other, it is the product of objectifying the needs established on the concept of time. The continuous interaction of these two aspects, has made architecture into a double life. Time, brings with itself the issues of temporality, changing needs and the ephemeral nature of materials. On the opposite side there is the personal-ness creative process and the timeless-ness and abstractness of the idea. These two dimensions makes every architectural problem into an obscure object of contemplation and the only way to overcome this, is to consider every architectural project, an exclusive research.



Mohammad Hossein Zowqi
Farshad Beheshti