Central Square Monument
The Square is regarded as the most important node in Bandar-e Anzali. The other factor, which aggravates its significance is maintaining the public image on the basis of the gathering and interaction of citizens despite the traffic distribution policies in addition to the antiquity and centrality of this square relative to other squares available in the city. Hence, taking into account the factors influencing the re-identification of this urban node is the essential matter considered in the design. The urban context, the culture (containing indigenous culture and tourist culture), the semantic and metaphorical aspects, and the re-creation of the historical values of the square are among the most crucial of these factors.
Approach to the Context
The resultant of the observer’s view perspectives from the routes leading to the square was initially employed in the context analysis as a guide to the approximate location of the project, and then the different layers were assessed as follows:
1- Horizontal organization and linear nature of the project as an alternative to the conventional vertical organization and point nature of monuments: Among the items, which cause visual differences between this square and other squares that primarily have radial organization, is its linear formation. The turning point of view in the radial organization is the center of the square. Thus, the elements designed for these squares principally are representative of a “point” in the plan and are typically shaped with a vertical structure. Because they are merely one point, they will rely on momentary perception so that the general structure of the work of art is understood at the moment of seeing it, and no new thing to show is generally available in the continuation of the horizontal movement of the observer and change of angle of view. Without taking into account that such quality does not appear to be proper for the city’s central square, which is a place of gathering and continuous attendance of the audience, the linear organization of the square also provides the ground for the creation of a novel and deeper quality. Therefore, the horizontal organization of the monument not only matches the square geometry itself but also leads to the emergence of ongoing variations in perspectives and different semantic aspects of the work during the passing of the audience and will be an encouraging factor for the deeper view of the audience. Thus, a symbolic element may offer a variety of meanings and qualities from each point of view.
2- Negative Space: Given that the lack of intervention in designing the landscape of the middle island of the square (The major part of it is occupied by pools and fountains) has limited the contact surface of the monument with the ground to its narrow edges, this issue is nearly evaluated in disagreement to the expected scale of the project. Hence, the strategy for the creation of a maximum negative space by the minimization of the mass turns this technical limitation into an opportunity for benefiting from its semantic potential.
3- Unity in Multiplicity (minimalism in form and multiplicity (plurality) of meanings in content): With respect to the changes in the view of the observer, which was previously pointed out, the project can disclose its different meanings from various angles and attain an ambiguous quality, while being integrated and lacking multiple extensions. In addition to the content of the project, the establishment of a relation with the clock tower (as a historical and original symbol of the city) that is placed in the back of the context of the square is a potential quality, which may generate a deeper link between the contemporary identity of the project and its historical context and prepare the ground for more earnest preservative approaches to this historical symbol.
4- The manifestation of two different scales of the project with regard to the position of the observer’s view: The walls surrounding the square have a medium height, and the area of the square in the traversal section is relatively small in relation to the urban center of the site core zone. So, designing the high-rise element with such an area is not so fitted. Hence, developing the scale of the monument not in height but in length dimension will be compatible with its context, in addition to the coordination with the scale of the square in terms of height. Thus, the project is perceived from the north and south views as a point with a small scale, and it reveals its large scale in its linear organization from the east-west views (longitudinal section); however, the element’s height is restricted to only approximately 6 meters, which is nearly equal to the shortest sections of the square wall.
5- Semantics on the basis of deep-rooted symbols without conveying personal perspectives: As the recreation of the identity of the past in an updated form is different from new identity building, so one should be more prudent concerning such contexts in the reflection of the semantic aspect of the work. Applying any personal point of view of the designer could be associated with collective rejection. Thus, it was attempted cultural symbols, which have deep roots in the history of Iran and the indigenous culture of the city, to be exploited in an abstract body. Knowing that such an approach to the application of cultural symbols in the form of architecture will guarantee its richness and stability in the context according to its historical and cultural history, even if it is not perceived by the general audience in a direct form. Essentially, the enhancement in the complexity of the content while enjoying a simple and legible form will be associated with concentrating on the spiritual dimension of the work relative to its material dimension.
Metaphorical Aspect of the Form
1- Empty space (negative space) is the essential metaphorical concept of the project. The project content lies in the removed and empty areas, not in the materials and mass of materials. Because “emptiness” is nothing but the negation of matter itself, it is inherently accompanied by the creation of a spiritual quality. Moreover, the negative space has the capability to alter and represent a different image while moving the observer due to the effect of parallax.
2- One of the images represented by the empty space in the design is the shape of the Islamic lancet arch (pointed arch or ogive arch), which is located in front of the view angle of the southern route as the most critical vision axis. This is while this element suddenly deforms during the passage beside the square and changing perspective breakpoints and entirely disappears in the side view.
3- From this eye axis, the upper edge of this concave arch, on the contrary, which has a convex shape, brings to mind the juxtaposition and appropriateness of the dome and the minaret as a basic system in Islamic architecture in front of the clock tower, which is located in the back of the context and leaning to one side. Deviating from the southern axis, this image disappears from view as well.
4- The facade (elevation) of the project from the square’s east and west walls has a distinct quality. These parts principally belong to the indigenous audience and are the place for the interaction of the citizens. Hence, it operates as a symbol for Bandar-e Anzali city. The image of the element is transformed from these angles of view, and it is an abstract image of a boat on the water in a constructivist body, which is raised to the sky and has oriented dynamics.
5- The abstract role of cypress (cedar) was employed in the project plan as it was exploited in a two-dimensional form in Iranian miniatures and carpets; fortunately, the design perfectly matches the geometric form of the square itself. Alternatively, the gradient of the project structure causes the role of the cypress plan to be legible not only from the aerial view but also from the observer’s view of the northern front. The “cypress” tree has been a symbol of the Iranians for a long time ago and is a representation of freedom and lack of belonging. The history of this symbol goes back to the Achaemenids; after that, it has been the theme of Iranian literature, painting, miniatures, and other Iranian arts for many years. However, the important thing hidden behind this symbol in the approval of the central idea of the current project (depending on the radical change of the typical vertical pattern to the horizontal pattern) is that even the horizontal drawing of abstract cypress in the design of Iranian carpets does not blemish the notion based on its solidity and elevation.