There's a common belief in Iranian architectural society that Hariri&Hariri may be the greatest female Persian architectural team ever; and there are many reasons behind this common belief.
Sister architecture team Hariri & Hariri was established in New York City by Iranian born American-educated sisters Gisue Hariri and Mojgan Hariri in 1986.
"Since starting their practice in 1986, Iranian-born, American-educated sisters Gisue and Mojgan Hariri have earned widespread praise for their ambitious body of work. Their up-to-the-minute recasting of classical modernist principles has made them a source of continuing inspiration to design...". (1)
Below in our short interview with Gisue, we discussed some of the issues which we believe is more interesting for Persian audience.
Space is taken as the main essence of architecture; despite its great transformations in history up to now, what’s your approach to this concept?
I think SPACE is ONE of the main elements of architecture that describes the essence of architecture, LIGHT is another. I believe that all great art reveals to us what is not visible, not tangible, not material.
This revelation or what moves us is to me the “essence” of that art.
In architecture it is through articulation of space and light that we create an experience relating to the essence of the place. It is the psychological experience not the physiological that is important.
In our work we are very aware of this phenomenon but have not yet a formula for it. It is not quite so simple to make architecture that moves visitors deeply that they always remember that experience. It is equivalent of a spiritual experience.
We hear of female architecture more or less in articles, interviews and seminars. Are feminine attribute allowed by you for architecture?
I don’t believe there is such a thing as “female” architecture. When I was at Cornell University studying architecture everything that had a curve or color or detailing was called feminine! If we go with that philosophy architects like Corbu, Aalto, Ghery, etc are all building Female architecture! However, I believe women architects design very differently as they are not linear thinkers and experience their environments totally different from men. If there is going to be a major change in architecture it will be through a woman architect. I believe Zaha Hadid has already began this revolution!
What are the role of the context and the relationship of architecture and urbon spaces in your professional attitude?
I am more interested in the cultural or metaphysical context of a place. Physical and architectural context is important but can not be copied or repeated. Urban Space however is in close relationship to architecture.
What are the major deficiencies of the Iranian architecture community in comparison to what the world of architecture is? Versus what special potential do you see in the Contemporary Iranian architecture?
The major deficiency is ORIGINALITY, to be part of the Global architecture but be relevant to the local culture and not be a COPY. I think there are few examples of great contemporary architecture being built in Iran today. There is also large number of Iranian Architects who are very talented and dedicated in creating an art out of their buildings. But I think as a culture with an amazing history of architecture and urbanism, Structural ingenuity, craft, sustainability and spirituality the Iranian contemporary architecture
has a great potential to be not only part of the Global dialogue but
also be different and offer something that others don’t have. It’s like Modernism and Japanese Zen culture the two share similar philosophy and contribute to the world architecture in a very different way.
What’s your opinion about the process of movements in Contemporary Architecture community in Iran as a developing society with National/Ideological (Iranian Islamic Architecture) trends?
I am not sure I understand this question? I think the Contemporary Architecture Community should Discuss, promote (via international Conferences) and showcase the Sustainability (and what we already have in different parts of Iran) and bring that into 21st Century. Contemporary architecture movement should not be about FORM but what is important today, Globally and locally.
Where is the boundary between the architectural principles and the personal priorities? Is selecting criteria a measurable indicator?
The boundary between personal & universal is blurred. Principles of architecture in fact are very personal today. Selecting a criteria is not mathematical but one has to consider many more things than the century before. For example the Digital & Computer technology and telecommunication systems available today will allow structures, construction and things that were not available to us 20 years ago.
How much do you found “philosophical approach” to the architecture, feeding of the soul of contemporary human being? In fact, if the architecture is a tool to response human”s need (problem solving), which requirements must be answered by architecture for people [in 21st century]?
I don’t believe that architecture in Persian Culture has ever been a
“solution” to a problem or simply creating a “shelter” for people. Architecture has always been a high art in Iran, everything always had a function yet deeper meaning related and connected to nature, creation and universe. From the Fire temples of the Zorastrians to the Bridges of Isfahan it was more than a tool to response to human’s need.
* Edited by BH Yousefi