Architecture on the Frontline.

Contemporary literature and film in the Middle East. Iran

Aerial view of Alameh Majlesi street near Jāmeh Mosque and the Grand Bazaar of Isfahan Photography: Erich F.Schmidt, 23 May 1937 at the altitude of 762 meters. Source: Ardalan, Nader, and Laleh Bakhtiar. The Sense Of Unity. Chicago: University of Chicago
Sheraton Hotel, Tehran, Welton Becket and Associates, Architects,1973


The countries of the Middle East have in recent years been repeatedly engulfed in wars, and yet rest on top of ancient civilisations that gave birth to culture, and even poetry itself. This seminar aims to understand the architecture and culture of the Middle East through literature and film. In a series of four intense block seminars students will discuss the challenges of capturing conflict in writing, and will use these readings as introductions and motivation for a more focused architectural analysis.

The idea of this course is to open up students’ imagination and learning interests to contemporary art, architecture and culture in the Middle East. We will particularly study films, novels, plays and poems that express the simultaneity of tradition and modernity and the tension between the respective national cultures, on the one hand, and the assimilation by the West, on the other, and how they explore war-shattered societies. Literature and film act not only as a means of understanding the threatening and traumatic events of the recent past, but also as a medium to explore architecture and the city as a key to initiate recollection and to practice the art of memory.

After an introductory session we will particularly focus on a study of the transformation of Iranian society under the influence of European modernism in the 19th and 20th century until today. Tehran, Iran’s capital provides the ideal setting for the exploration of unique spatial conditions as they developed in relation to new cultural and political regimes.

Prof. Dr. Ines Weizman, Juniorprofessur Architekturtheorie, Fakultät Architektur und Urbanistik

Mehran Mojtahedzadeh (MA, PhD.cand.), Fakultät Architektur und Urbanistik