Bridging The Gap Between Two Nations
Located just behind the Queens House in Greenwich Park. The Seven Princesses of Greenwich are a sign of peace between the great countries of the United Kingdom and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the year 1959, the Shah of Iran visited the United Kingdom and Greenwich in particular and presented a very unique gift to the queen, a rare copy Nizami Ganjavi’s beloved poem “Haft Paykar” or “The Seven Princesses”, this poem charts the story of a Great King, who builds Seven pavilions for seven princesses each from a different continent so that on each day of the week he can visit each pavilion and be heralded with stories from each Princess. This project is my interpretation of the great poem where I speculate that in the near future, with the sanctions on Iran being lifted and relationships improving, this historic site is used as a location to build an architecture dedicated to bridging the gap between the two nations, and one that celebrates the similarities and differences between them. The result is a cultural playground that celebrates Persian culture but one that also represents Iran within Greenwich, which is the reason that the heart of the project is the embassy. In the Project I interpreted each of Nizami’s seven princesses as their own architecture. The Seven Princesses of Greenwich are: 1. The Embassy 2. The Tea-house 3. The Gardens 4. The Bakery 5. The Pharmacy 6. The Pharmacy and finally 7. The Mosques.
Who influences you graphically?
I tried as much as possible to be inspired by the illustrations of the original poem, Haft Paykar by Nizami Ganjavi, however as the project developed into a 3-D proposal i started looking at the forms and volumes from Shin Takamatsu. The drawings of Drawing architecture studio were also very helpful, both for the incredible color palette and the obscure axonometrics. One element that i took from them specifically was to ignore set frameworks for representation and to pick the method that most suited that piece of work.
How did you start translating literature through to architecture?
This was done in a very simple way. Using the precedent of Anthony Caro’s Duccio variations (where he made physical interpretations of Duccio’s renaissance paintings) I started by collaging illustrations of the poem into 7 architectures. (Embassy, Tea-house, Gardens, Bakery, Bathhouse, Pharmacy, Mosque), i then drew fictional elevations of these 7 based on shin takamatsu’s elevations.These were then developed in 3-D.
How could the formatting of the project in the format of a book reinforce the poetic nature of the proposal?
It was something I had thought of doing from the beginning, to represent the project as illustrations to the original poem, instead of as its own thing entirely. But this wouldn’t have suited the structure of the course and I ran out of time. If I could go back to it is something i am very interested in doing.
What would the effect of text have within the images as in the ‘cover’ image?
The job of the text throughout the project is an attempt to tie it back to the source material, and to show the reader that this is as much a narrative project as anything else.
Color in the project has a very significant role, the seven princesses as outlined by Nizami are all assigned a color (Black, Yellow, Green, Red, Turquoise, Sandalwood and White). As for in the specific drawings the absence of color implies that the drawing is there to convey information, to show what the project is about, but the perspectives and big axonometrics are there more to convey the atmosphere of the project, thus color was used. Also it would have been pretty embarrassing to do a project based on color without any color in it!
What does texture reveal within the images, atmosphere/materiality etc?
The project is essentially an Iranian themed political themed park in the middle of Greenwich park so the textures of certain elements and the atmosphere and materiality that is conveyed hopefully captures some of this Persian essence whilst not letting you forget that you are still in the center of London.