Marco Djermaghian, an unconventional Iranian architect has actively sought in his practice to engage directly with the process of construction.
Lately he has renovated and partially re-constructed the office building of a glass factory in Iran. His purpose was to refine the traditions of his country to elemental simplicity, while transforming materials and surfaces through the exploration of new treatments and techniques.
Liya Glass Factory
Qazvin/ (IRAN): the construction is a completion of the office building of Liya Glass Factory.
Two parts outside the existing building were added: a screen and a roof for a car park. The rest of the works had to do with the interiors of the existing building and the design of screens partitions and tables.
All the works were done with the workers from the factory, from the welding section, the wood works section and of course the glass section. As glass is produced within the factory, part of the brief was to make maximum use of glass. His success can be attributed to his skills in revealing unfamiliar or unknown relationships by utilizing normal materials such as pipes, insulation foils, wood, and neon lights & steel in an innovative way.
The architect wanted to preserve traditions while being reductionist and minimalist and his commitment through materiality is a common thread through all his projects. Formal gestures have generally progressed from the purist simplicity of rectangular forms to more complex and dynamic geometries.
The factory acts in accordance with Integrity in complying with the laws and respect of the execution. For this reason the architect’s devotion to the value of integrity has been a cornerstone of his success. The search for the highest quality of execution and the care of details reflect in most of the customer’s appreciation.
GA: Marco how did you proceed before and during the designing of the factory?
MD: I’M used to design with workers on site, working on ‘prototypes’.
The biggest difficulty I had in this project was that the engineers of the factory didn’t want to assign me workers to work with ! I guess they were jealous because we were realizing some good work together.
But eventually they had to give me some workers to work with, after all, as they realized that it was a matter of designing their future offices; it was a hard process but finally they understood.
mA second step is to meet with my team and to explain my idea, and make sure they understand the design by creating prototype pieces,I always make a model and construct prototypes for each detail.
A second step is to meet with my team and to explain my idea, and make sure they understand the design by creating prototype pieces,
One of the important aspects of my architectural process is to create the prototype at a smaller scale and once the craftsmen understand the technique they can start making it bigger, or in same case, making one to one pieces.
GA: Did you learn that process of making and drawing at University?
MD: Yes, when I was at the AA.
GA: What is the next step?
MD: After this cycle of making/drawing, when I decide together with the Team on the last version, it is always on site and usually I make a detail of a part, which is repeated after for more than one model.
This helps to brink awareness and comprehension among workers who can reproduce the ‘detail’ to a bigger scale with a different section of materials.
Starting with the simplest tools and least complicated details, workers can gradually acquire the ability to master more intricate problems and to work with machinery, while at the same time keeping in touch with the entire process of construction and renovation from start to finish. They feel they are part of the ‘final product’ and more responsible of the final result.
I think one of the main problems (in Iran and elsewhere in the world) in the execution of details in projects is the gap between designer and artisan.
Sometimes, especially when it comes to traditional techniques of construction, with bricks for example, I learned a lot from the master craftsmen’s wisdom and knowledge.
For the past 5 years I have been immersed in the traditional arts of construction in the city of Kashan, and this has had a huge influence on my art and architecture.
And if I can make an example in Japan, the success of design and architecture is the existence of very fine professional craftsmen from textile to steel, in all aspects of crafts and the use and collaboration between the craftsmen and designers
Much of the best work in Japan is based on this formula.
In the old days, everywhere, there was no gap between the design and the execution: today especially in architecture, there is design, engineering and construction as the necessary steps towards the production of form, space and materials. There are many other ways, more interesting and leading to surprisingly innovative solutions and effects. And one of them is a direct approach, a one to one approach, to design and construction.
Marco Djermaghian, born in 1973 in Tehran is a graduate from the architectural association in London. He lives and works in Tehran.