harmonic contrast By Mahmood Feizabadi, Davud Taghavi & Fariba Arbab Saljoughi

Harmonic contrast

​By Mahmood Feizabadi, Davud Taghavi & Fariba Arbab Saljoughi


Isfahan, the crown jewel of Saffavid Empire, is the cultural capital of Islamic world. It is the focal point of art, architecture and culture of Iran. Isfahan as a world heritage and tourist attraction, draws millions of visitors each year. The approach to urban development in historic cities such as Isfahan, is a challenging and crucial issue.

The demand for housing and hospitality spaces for tourist population is constantly on the rise. Therefore, providing such accommodations and buildings according to the principles of conservation of heritage structures and regarding today’s artistic and engineering values is essential. Adopting materials such as adobe, bricks, wood and envelops and coverings like turquoise tiles and ochre skins in historic architecture, has provided a harmonic theme and granted an aesthetic and morphological soul to the city. Any additional construction should not disturb the city’s character. Also regulations of conservation and renovation of legacy buildings and environmental considerations are obstacles in the course of augmenting the status quo.

Wooden products and materials possess characteristics that make them a suitable option for renovating and extending heritage building. They are reasonably strong, lightweight, natural, flexible and reusable; and can be prefabricated and assembled by dry joints.

Shah Abbasi Hotel in Isfahan is the city’s most popular hotel. It was built about 300 years ago as a caravansary to provide lodging for passengers. The structure has been renovated since the 1950s by André Godard to fight and prevent degradation. Today it doesn’t have enough room for its popular demand and reservation is very difficult. This complex has been selected as the context and pilot for development using wooden materials for this competition.

The design concept of this project is derived from stacks of lumber on top of each other. This formation is a reminder of traditional brick arrangement in another scale. This type of organization in form, is fitting for the function of dwelling spaces. Creating periodical mass and space provides proper lighting and shading. Stretching of pieces above one another delivers an exciting impression of lumbers sliding in a stack and has generated a new outline for the current building. This kind of development plan is like resuscitating an inanimate monument to impress the audience.

City Above the City architecture competition

Plan B : City Above the City architecture competition 

Metsä Wood challenged architects and students around the world to push the boundaries of modern wood building design in the urban environment. Entrants from 40 countries created their Plan B to urbanisation using wood (Kerto® LVL – laminated veneer lumber) as the main material. The task was to design a wooden extension to an existing urban building. The entries were designed to 69 cities worldwide.

Explore the designs