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Project timeline

1969 – 1973

Type

Museum

Location Change this

Shiraz
Iran

Current state

Project

Architect Change this

Shiraz Art Museum Change this

Shiraz, Iran
by Alvar Aalto Change this
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This plan bears impressive testimony to Alvar Aalto's undiminished creative force and ability to come up with fresh ideas even in his seventies. It was Iran's queen Farah Diba, once a student of architecture, who suggested that Aalto should design this hilltop museum near the new university campus just outside the ancient south Persian city of Shiraz.

Aalto visited the site in October 1969, and after a few days was ready to present the main characteristics of his plan, which he based on the local landscape and cultural milieu. His customary attention to site contours, manifested in many different ways in his work, here directed his attention to the long, stepped terraces of the surrounding agricultural landscape, which he took as his model for the museum's external form. It consists of a cluster of longitudinal building volumes slightly angled in relation to one another, lined up irregularly and flanked by a partially covered, walled sculpture garden. The interior consists of a seemingly formless columned hall with no clear wall plan, related to a mosque type frequent in the Middle East. Functionally, the plan consists of two levels: the basement contains parking, service space, and a restaurant, the main floor an auditorium and - as its dominant feature - an extensive, low anteroom from which the full breadth of the large, column-borne main hall - divisible into a variety of exhibition spaces - opens up. Lighting is through a system of intricate, decorative skylights. The idea was that the sculpture garden and the entire hill should be turned into a verdant, blossoming park by artificial irrigation. The decision to start construction had been taken and the working drawings were being prepared when the revolution that overthrew the Shah in the mid 1970s put an end to the project.

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