Damghan Iranian Garden, the first garden in Semnan province, designed by Khoobchehr Keshavarzi, a master of architecture, and her husband, Yazdan Houshvar, an architect and urban planner, has been built to honor the traditional and domestic architecture of the country.
Eng. Khoobchehr Keshavarzi cooperates with the Iranian Garden World Studies Institute, a sub-branch of the Society for Iran’s National Heritage. The Society for Iran’s national Sources of Pride, an institute that provides solutions for how to repair and develop Iranian garden globally. Eng. Keshavarzi has done research in this field and presented her findings in the form of lectures and articles. The ancient gardens of Iran are world famous. They were built and arranged so beautifully and at the same time well planned in terms of irrigation and receiving sunlight. The arrangement was unmatched in an Iranian garden, and based on precise geometrical dimensions, with the pavilion in the middle of the garden. Damghan Iranian Gardens, with all the features that are specific of an Iranian garden, was recently opened in Damghan Forest Park with an area of 18.5 hectares. This Iranian garden is built in the northeastern part of Damghan Student Park with private investment by a person from Damghan by the name of Ali Akbar Kianpour, and is named after him. Khoobchehr Keshavarzi, in collaboration with her husband, Eng. Yazdan Hoshvar, an architect and urban planner, a member of the Contemporary Iranian Architecture Association, worked with the design team for two years to design this Iranian garden. In implementing this project, Mafakher Square, a pavilion building based on the architecture of Iranian gardens and a sidewalk, will be built, and a sculpture of Manouchehri Damghani will be installed in the center of Mafakher Square of this garden.
About her acquaintance with the donor in this project, Eng. Keshavarzi said: “In a meeting that was held in the Jahan Iranian Garden Institute, in his presence, it was decided that he would invest in this project. In cooperation with Eng Yazdan Houshvar, we took charge of designing the garden, which, on one hand had architectural responsibility and on the hand it was a job that we started planning and implementing without expectation of pay. It was prefereable that the 10 UNESCO approved global garden features to be included in the design. So, with the help of our expertise and many years of architectural experience, and with the help of each other and the people who worked as a group, we started designing the garden by considering the details.”
Khoobchehr Keshavarzi explained the details of the work: “”The Damghan Iranian Garden project was to be implemented in the space of Daneshjou Park, the large city part. We were faced with a tree-lined area, and we had to execute the design so that no tree would be damaged. The entrance to the park had a main road or path to the south, called the Boulevard, and was in ruins. The crossroads with its ruins could be seen in the park without any accurate information about the ruins’ history and uses. Also, to create an artificial lake, they excavated at the beginning of the entrance, but it was an abandoned and unfinished work.
On the other hand, to install the memorial and statue of Manouchehri Damghani as one of the most prominent celebrities and poets of Damghan, we had to consider a place where visitors can see that this famous poet is the pride of Damghan. There has never been a statue in the garden, but we did not see any obstacle in doing this job, and we were able to consider a space in the garden to install the statue. During a field observation of Damghan Student Park (Daneshjou), we sound that all the previously built sites were fixed and the park’s designing should be done with a focus on these cases.
Damghan Persian Garden includes the pavilion building, the axis of the waterway, and Manouchehri Square in Damghan. Eng. Keshavarzi continued about the design process of this Iranian garden and said: “Considering these fixed architectures that already existed in the park, we started designing the Iranian garden. Based on these data, the garden entrance design as a square system was formed from the west side of the building. Manouchehr Damghani statue will be placed in the middle of the square. The statue was Manuchehri Damghani was not installed at the time of the garden opening and needed to be changed, which will be ready for installation in the garden square by September. The structural design of the pavilion, waterways, and all the specifications of an Iranian garden were implemented based on two axes: one in the west of the square and the other in the south of the garden.”
The designer talked about pavilion’s structure and its rare features: “The Iranian pavilion building plan is designed in the shape of a flower, but when you enter, you think you are entering a classic Iranian architecture. The shape of the flower is reflected in the ceiling and all its various sections. A marble pool that looks like a bright gemstone adds to the lighting effect.. The same plan can be seen on the ceiling with a view of the sky. The details of the building plan are carefully designed, and one of the unique features of the building is that it is made both in height and on the plan using the “golden dimensions” diagram.
The central part of the pavilion has no windows. There are 4 tall marble stones on 4 sides that light up from the direction that the day light shines on them and accurately shows the path on all 4 sides. This lighting method is historical, as, in the bath of Ganjali Khan of Kerman, the marble was installed by illuminating the marble with the morning light, and it was a warning that the men’s turn was over a bath should be left to the woman. Marble is used as a guide, as well as attraction, brightness, and lights. When you enter the building, light shines on the marble stones from all directions, showing a beautiful and bright reflection, and it is unbelievable for the viewer that such a lighting system takes its light from the stones with such thickness.
The evergreen and sweet smelling myrtle plant, which has medicinal use, has been presented to the Iranian garden by Khoobchehr Keshavarzi. In this regard, she explained: “I had reproduced this plant myself, and it was tough. I gave it as a gift to Damghan Garden, and where the sign of Manouchehri Damghani Square was placed, this tree was planted in compliance with the existing conditions.”
About the green area, the architect added: “One of the characteristics of the green areas of this garden is the planting of nastaran (sweetbriar) plants at the entrance and the end part of the garden. As written in the book called Ershad al-Zera’a by Qasim ibn Yusuf Abu Nasri Heravi, on agriculture, and about the life of plants and trees in the 9th century of the Iranian calendar (beginning of the Safavid dynasty), nastaran plants were planted at the entrance and end part of gardens. Today we know that the Nastaran flower is a symbol of Amordad Amshaspand and a symbol of immortality. We also know that Amordad Amshaspand is the guardian of plants and vegetables.”
Eng. Khoobchehr Keshavarzi continued: “The Iranian Garden’s design is thought provocative and educational, in a way that distinguishes it from the amusement space of the park.” The visitor is impressed by the garden’s structure, which is not just for fun and entertainment. The view of the garden attracts the visitor and fills his mind with questions. The visitor should be well influenced by the surroundings, when leaving the garden: this means that the spectator can learn from this space. Of course, we do not claim to have included all these features, but at least we have put thought into having these features in the garden design. On the Garden’s opening day, we noticed this sort of a questioning look on the faces of the visitors. It was as if they had set foot in a mysterious, sacred, and magnificent place. Achieving this feedback was the most important goal for us. I think we dug into the surface of the garden, evoking the feeling of entering the sunken of Zoorkhaneh, where only respect for the disciple, heroism, guidance, and morality is significant.
She added: “In the middle of the garden, there is a pool of water and a waterway. Water, indicating the flow of life and existence, is the most fundamental symbol for a place that is supposed to be called a garden. A marble pool, which shines with the reflection of light on the marble stones and the phenomenon of the reflection of the sky in the pool is eye-catching and makes the spectators become aware of the value of water. When the visitor enters the garden from the square’s entrance, all of a sudden he notices the waterway by turning 90 degrees. This type of waterway, I can dare say, cannot be found in any other similar Iranian garden. 300m waterway, with a very gentle slope has created a pleasant view. The real value of this garden comes from the fact that since the Qajar period upto now, it is the first garden in which all the features have been considered and consciously implemented. No tree was cut in this project. There was a single tree in the entrance area, we all tried to design the entrance based on the maintenance of this tree. Based on the investment of the donor, I think we have achieved the best results. I hope that the visitors will grasp these values when visiting the garden.”
The Iranian garden is taken from the name “Persian Garden” that for the first time foreigners mention it and it reminds Iranians of its value that had been long lost to us. Right now also the same translation is used in literature research. The book “Borhan Ghateh” (conclusive reasoning) states that “Bagh” means a pit or arena. In the footnote it is indicated that in Avesta, first it is interpreted as benefits or future, and second “Baghe” in Avestan and “vabage” in ancient Persian language, meaning God and creator. In both meanings “bagh” stems from the root of the word “bag” meaning donate or giving away (in Pahlavi “baxtan}. In 2011, with the purpose of introducing the concept of Iranian gardens to the world, the Cultural Heritage Organization had the famous Iranian gardens registered by UNESCO as world heritage:
- Pasargad Garden in Marvdasht (Achaemenid).
- Fin Garden of Kashan (Sassanid, Safavid)
- Garden of Eram in Shiraz (Seljuk)
- Garden of Forty Pillars in Isfahan (Safavid)
- Garden of Abbas Abad in Behshahr (Safavid)
- Garden of Prince Mahan in Kerman (Qajar)
- Dolatabad Garden of Yazd (Afshariyeh)
- Pahlavanpour Garden of Mehriz Yazd (Qajariyeh)
- Akbarieh Garden of Birjand (Zandieh, Qajariyeh)
UNESCO has announced 10 indicators for registering Iranian gardens, according to which the gardens have been observed and judged. The ICOMOS World Committee, as the most influential non-governmental organization, specializes in the maintenance of historic buildings and sites such as gardens. In December 1982, in Florence, a charter was adopted to preserve landmark gardens, called the Florence Charter. The UNESCO statement on assessment of a world garden contains 10 clauses, the ninth of which refers to the Avesta and its texts. Eng. Khoobchehr Keshavarzi believes that all the mentioned sections have an Avestan characteristic. A book titled “A New Look at Persepolis Based on the Avesta and Ritual Ceremonies” has been published by eng. Keshavarzi.
View of Damghan Persian Garden at night from the pavilion and the entrance square
Inside the pavilion and the pool in the middle is imitated from the sky of the roof hole
Group photo with the investor Ali Akbar Kianpour and his family members and the mayor and officials of Damghan
Eng. Khoobchehr Keshavarzi, Yazdan Hoshvar, her husband, Lecture on the opening day of Damghan Persian Garden: June 2, 2021
View inside the pavilion