Let’s dig (english summary)
Salon Suisse 2016: Friday, 21st October
Iranian architect Mahnaz Ashrafi presents her research on cave architecture in Maymand highlands. There, communities of shepherds have dug dwellings in the stone since 3000 before Christ. UNESCO classified these homes as part of the World Heritage Site.
At the beginning of her conference, Mahnaz Ashrafi describes how these dwellings called «Kiches» are built and used by their residents.
Between Desert and Mountains
There are about 400 Kiches in Maymand, and some contain up to 7 rooms. Shepherds only live in caves during the cold season. Women are weaving carpets and clothes and men are making shoes and bags in boiled wood.
Groundwater even allowed troglodyte villages to cultivate gardens. It is hard to believe that some people still live there. A link can be made between Peter Vetsch and Mahnaz Ashrafi.
Conservation and Development
El-Wakil links both processes with Alejandro Aravena’s research for an alternative architecture. Ashrafi explains the minimal process to create a housing: «We can learn from Maymand’s ancient knowledge». The landscape where these residents live and where they build their winter residences gives them almost no resources. However, for millennia, they have succeeded in cultivating the surrounding land.
The recognition of Maymand by UNESCO has attracted attention and funding to the region. For example, in order to preserve cave architecture, tourists could spend a night in «Kiches» deserted by their inhabitants.
A Dystopian Vision of the Future
It represents a large and difficult gap between conservation and change for a community that has seemed for a long time out of time. This is an evocative reminder of Aravena’s questions on the endless constructions of cities and architecture in a globalised society. From this perspective, Maymand conveys a dystopian vision of the future, when human beings will have consumed all natural resources. Then, we will be forced to survive by creating accommodation with the barest of resources.
Mahnaz Ashrafi, Iran: architect. Iranian architect, Ashrafi graduated with a master from the Fine Art Faculty of Tehran University in the field of architecture (1993). She began her career in Iranian cultural heritage conservation. She got her PhD from the IAUG (Geneva; 2008) concerning troglodytic architecture in 2008. When she returned to Iran, she continued her practice on troglodytic heritage. She was also a scientific chair during two international conferences on troglodytic architecture in 2012 and 2016 that were held in Iran. To this day, her work as a manager of cultural landscape of Maymand led to inscribe this site on World Heritage List in 2015.
Redaktion: Urs Honegger (Hochparterre)
Produktion: Roderick Hönig (Hochparterre), Urs Honegger (Hochparterre)
Korrektorat: Beat Zaugg
Copyright: Pro Helvetia & Hochparterre 2016
Hochparterre dokumentiert den «Salon Suisse» 2016. Als offizieller Medienpartner begleiten wir die Veranstaltungsreihe mit Hintergrundinformationen, Zusammenfassungen, Audiostatements, Bildern und Livestreamings. Der «Salon Suisse» ist das Begleitprogramm des Schweizer Auftritts an der 15. Internationalen Architekturbiennale – La Biennale di Venezia. Der «Salon Suisse» ist eine Initiative der Schweizer Kulturstiftung Pro Helvetia.
Hochparterre documente en exclusivité le «Salon Suisse» 2016. Le partenaire média officiel du salon suit la série d’événements au travers d’articles de fond, de résumés, d’enregistrements audios, d’images et de retransmissions en direct. Le «Salon Suisse» est le programme parallèle de la présence suisse à la 15e Biennale internationale d’architecture – La Biennale di Venezia. Le «Salon Suisse» est une initiative de la Fondation suisse pour la culture Pro Helvetia.
Hochparterre exclusively documents the «Salon Suisse» 2016. As official media partner Hochparterre provides multimedia background information with written articles, audiostatements, visuals and free live streaming of part of the «Salon Suisse» talks. «Salon Suisse» is a talks and event programme complementing Switzerland’s national participation at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. It is initiated by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.