Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge
Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge is considered today to be one the strategic landmarks in the city of Tehran. It is a 270-meter-long pedestrian bridge. It spans a valley and connecting two public parks on each side of the Modarres Highway, one of the major highways in the city.
It’s designed with the idea to become a “place to stay” rather than “to pass”. The project architects are Leila Araghian, Alireza Behzadi, and Sahar Yasaei. The Bridge stands out as an innovative contemporary architectural and engineering design in a most strategic location.
This location enables the passer-by to get out of the nightmare of the traffic jam that is in Tehran. And to overlook the whole city, with its spectacular background scene of the Alborz Mountains.
With its sense of complexity, the Bridge generates different experiences in day and night-time for users. Users experience it as a revolutionary masterpiece in a time of political and economic crisis.
It derives its meaning from its name Tabiat (originally an Arabic word, tabi’at, that means nature in the Farsi language). The Bridge engenders an unprecedented revolution in how bridges can be designed for empowering the pedestrian movement and not that of vehicles.
Brief historical background
In 1975, Mohammad Reza Shah, the leader of Iran, inaugurated the construction of a ceremonial urban center in northern Tehran.
The proposed plan, prepared by Llewelyn Davies International, consisted of a large plaza and two boulevards lined with governmental and commercial buildings.
But the Shah’s vision was never realized. Afterward, construction was soon halted with the eruption of protests that led to the fall of the Pahlavi monarchy in 1979.
In late 1973, Louis Kahn [as well as Kenzo Tange] were solicited to prepare a proposal, which was never finished, as Kahn died in March 1974.
Underlying all these proposals was a yearning to create a modernized, acculturated and apolitical urban middle class.
The trajectory of these plans demonstrates how the demand for rapid modernization led, ultimately, to the “tragedy of development”.
The area where the Bridge is located is called the Abbasabad Hills. It covers an area of 560 hectares with a special topographic characteristic. That makes it different from all its surrounding city texture, and the residential developments around it couldn’t expand on this hilly area.
After the Islamic revolution in 1979 and following the eight years of Iran-Iraq war. As the construction in the country restarted in the late 80s to early 90s, there were a few more proposals by local firms. Eventually, the final master plan which was confirmed for these areas was to make all these lands into green low-rise public spaces.
In the latest master plan (done by the office of Seyed Hadi Mirmiran, called Naqsh-e-Jahan Pars), there are pedestrian connections between the two parks. It is about maximizing pedestrian movement and minimizing the motor-vehicle entries to the site. This is where the necessity of having a pedestrian bridge between the two parks was initiated.
Local architectural character
The Bridge connects two green parks, and it is among the rare places in Tehran where one can still experience nature. Most families come for picnics in this preserved natural setting, escaping the hectic traffic and the city’s density.
Thus, the character of this site is a green landscape with few architectural and urban infringements.
However, there was a landscape project that was implemented by the same design office that did Tabiat Bridge. It was the beginning of the whole project of restructuring this area. An attraction zone for Tehranis to experience nature and open-air community life.
General programme objectives
The brief of what the competition to design a bridge aimed to:
- Provide a pedestrian connection between the two sides of Modarres Highway.
- Create an architectural and engineering landmark that enhances the identity of Tehran.
- Design a bridge that celebrates the pedestrian experience and not the vehicular one.
The technology used in constructing the Bridge is local though some raw materials are imported. CNC-cut steel pipes were welded to each other. The cranes may have been purchased from abroad. In general, there was not a specific technology imported from abroad. The work was fully done by an Iranian contractor, sub-contractors and labor.
- The steel pipes were imported from China
- The Resysta Paving was imported from Germany to Dubai
- All the rest of the materials were supplied locally from Iran