Bridges have always been tightly associated with Iranian identity. Two main bridges have firmly kept their ground in the city of Isfahan, since the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century. Here, we are not discussing these famous bridges although recommending to visit Khaju and Si-O Se Pol bridge over the Zayandeh River. But it is about the newly designed, award-winning hi-tech structure, Tabiat Bridge. It is built in the heart of Tehran by Leila Araghian. She came up with the idea while she was still a student and Tabiat Bridge was her severe first project.
The existence of Tabiat Bridge provides a respite from the nightmare traffic-jam of Tehran, with the views of both the city and the mesmerizing background of the snow-capped Alborz Mountains during the winter fall, winter and springtime. No matter what time of the year you decide to go for a walk, you will be rewarded with the scenery of the green area around the bridge. You name it Tehran’s terrace.
This pathway is designed such that it will make you hesitant to pass by. A great view can elevate an excellent meal, an ordinary evening or a casual presence to a remarkable experience. This experience is made possible with the existence of the iron bridge stretched over Modarres highway. The special lighting design at night, the restaurants and cafes and the heavenly breeze of fresh air coming from the green zone stay in mind to strengthen one’s spirit.
In Persian, Tabiat means nature. Tabiat Bridge, the largest of its kind in Iran, has become the contemporary image of Tehran after Azadi Bridge, which is the gateway of modern Tehran. It connects the two public parks Ab-o-Atash and Taleghani on each side of Modarres Highway.
It is interesting to know that this project was commenced before the fall of Pahlavi Monarchy. However, with the revolution happening, the project was halted for a few years. Later in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were many proposals from local firms paving the way to the final master plan. The firm was chosen through a two-phase competition, and the construction of the bridge started in September 2010. The Tabiat Bridge inaugurated in October 2014.
The bridge was designed based on five main assumptions:
1. The initial idea for this bridge was to connect the two public parks through a walkway; however, the architect had a better plan in mind. She wanted to create multiple pathways, such that people could take different routes, all leading to the bridge. Tabiat Bridge is a two-level bridge, branching within Taleghani Park and Ab-o-Atash park. It is making it difficult to recognize where the park begins and where it ends.
2. The bridge ought to be a place for pedestrians to pause and linger, instead of a simple pathway. The seating areas, the coffee places and many restaurants provide enough incentive to slow down the pedestrians.
3. Straight lines were to be avoided to create a multi-dimensional perspective for pedestrians. Curved pathways, variable widths and changes in slopes create mystery about the destination. This way, passengers will be more encouraged to stay longer on the bridge rather than just continuing walking to get to their destinations.
4. The design of the bridge was made such that it would have an as little footprint as possible to avoid having to remove the trees.
5. The structural concept was to have a spatial structure to create an inhabitable architectural space while at the same time acting at the structure.
Tabiat Bridge has become a popular place for families and friends to meet and hang out, even a romantic place for couples to spend time together. If you are a fan of nature, it is a perfect choice to walk on this bridge. The complexity of the overall structure is based on a rough geometry, revealed only when its different layers are seen in elevation and the plan. If you are a photographer visiting this place is highly recommended, since it’s an excellent spot for photoshoots.
By Maryam Mobarhani