Leila Araghian receives 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Oct 03, 2016

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge in Tehran is one of six winning structures.

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge

While taking a leave from her Master of Architecture degree, Leila designed the bridge, located in a northern part of Tehran that is mainly dedicated to cultural and green spaces, to span a busy highway and connect two parks. Completed in 2014, the multi-level, 270-metre-long curved bridge of varying width has created a dynamic new urban space. Seating, green spaces, and kiosks encourage people to linger on a site where greenery has been preserved by the minimal footprint of the bridge. The bridge is a popular gathering place for the people of Tehran and tourists alike, offering viewing perspectives of Tehran like no other.

View from the south towards the Tabiat Bridge and Alborz Mountains in the background.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, awarded every three years, recognizes projects that not only exhibit architectural excellence and improve the overall quality of life, but also address the needs and aspirations of societies with a significant Muslim presence.

The jury lauded her reinterpretation of the original project brief, which called for a straightforward connection between two parks, instead transforming a bridge into a destination. “Inviting people to congregate, interact, and appreciate the vista in every direction, the bridge has become a promenade and one of the most successful public spaces in modern Tehran.”

Iranian teenage girls posing for a selfie on the Tabiat Bridge.

Asked about the award, Leila says that “it is great for any architect to be recognized internationally, especially among such well-known architects . . . knowing that people like our project gives me the most rewarding feeling, more than any awards.”

(Photographs courtesy of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Barzin Baharlouie.)