BABA BESKI’S GARDEN
Almost everyone in Iran remembers the white-bearded old man that was Baba Beski, aka Dr. Gholamali Beski, appearing on national TV always wearing his signature white clothes, speaking passionately about how natural resources are in immediate danger and how humans ought to live a healthier and a more environmental-friendly life, reciting a few verses of classic Persian poetry along as his eyes got wet with tears. He educated many devotees and disciples over the years. A physician and environmentalist that, during his lifetime, turned into a sort of modern-day mystic Sheikh, he adopted a life-style driven by an extreme love for nature and gave up and donated all his belongings for this end. After his death, his immediate family commissioned ZAV Architects to design and build a tomb for him inside the large natural garden where he used to live. He spent his days in his house, a small library and other small facilities that were located in this private garden, and after death his body was buried there. ZAV Architects proposed to redesign the garden as a space open to public, just like the many famous old historic private gardens that were turned into inner city parks open to all for enjoyment and leisure activities. This way, His tomb would be extended from the limited space of his grave to a whole garden, as a living memorial where his many fans can remember him in its every corner, in an almost pilgrimage-like experience. Baba Beski's body is buried next to spaces of his everyday living. He is thought to be perished but he is also growing into the living texture of vegetation that make the garden be. This vicinity of life and death, this entanglement of two seemingly but not necessarily opposite concepts, is what interested us in the design process. In re-designing the garden, man-made structures and nature morph into one another, in a perpetual limbo state between perishing (towards death and nothingness) and incompleteness (towards life and growth). For instance new buildings and renovations are left incomplete on purpose, sometimes an existing building is left open to the forces of nature in order to turn into a ruin faster, or paths are beaten only by shaping earth, avoiding new fixed materials, and therefore leaving the paths an option to change and adapt with time. The aspiration to design incompleteness resulted physically in a structure made of woven rebar. With its surface gradually rusting and greenery climbing and covering it as time goes by, it changes incessantly, displaying an ambiguous and ghost-like look that is unfinished and vague. Fragments of this structure will be scattered all over the garden and take different functions when applied, they can become the structure reinforcing an existing building, the wall providing cover, the shade hanging over the grave, a connecting path or a bridge, a furniture, or simply a structure that is there as a reminder of incompleteness and for which someone will definitely find a use. At its current state, the garden is open to public, the tomb has been built while other constructions are still on-going. Briefing Baba Beski is a sheikh-like Iranian environmentalist who upon his wish was buried in the same private garden where he used to live after passing away. The entire garden, which is re-designed as a memorial for his followers to remember and visit him, follows his ideas about human life and nature. The buildings inside the garden, including his library and tomb among others, display different stages of incompleteness of design, embodied in structures made of woven rebar constantly being changed or conquered by nature. At its current state, the garden is open to public, the tomb has been built while other constructions are still on-going.