This design for Benetton’s flagship retail & office space in Tehran, Iran examines a program and setting with a publicly volatile relationship. The difficulty of this design challenge was to address the culture of the setting and the culture of the client, creating a clear sense of identity for both without exhibiting a bias. The competition program asked for commercial retail and office spaces, as well as residential penthouses, and stressed contemporary sensitivity.
International fashion is successful to the degree that it combines global elements of design and style with the most personal sense of comfort; every garment ultimately clothes an individual. A building can similarly provide an outwardly focused image and an inwardly felt experience. Benetton Tehran was inspired by this multifaceted possibility, using it as a springboard to address both its location and its occupants. A brick masonry street wall respects the local form, materiality, and modesty of Tehran. The courtyard, based on a Persian pattern device, addresses the commercial face. The courtyard volume opens to the sky, rotating and expanding as it rises past the retail zone, the offices above, and finally the residential floors at the upper levels. The retail spaces present a modest and controlled face to the street, hinting at the rich spatial and environmental quality of the interior. As the courtyard geometry blossoms outward, the pattern is allowed to cut large openings in the masonry skin and finally to carve away at the exterior volume revealing the dynamic process at work. The highest, most slender masses remaining at the top of the building function as urban-scale, inward-facing, display vitrines. Without resorting to large-scale signage and literal advertising, the iconic form and internal draw of the architecture would fashion Benetton’s unique Tehran identity.
Credits: Ian Roll project architect while at Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects