Kamran Diba is an Iranian architect. He studied architecture and sociology at Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1969, after having begun in private practice, he established DAZ Consulting Architects and Engineers, which he left in 1980. From 1976-1978, Mr. Diba served as the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran. Mr. Diba was a recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1986 for Shustar New Town.
Once a private park and later a sanitorium, the garden is situated in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains. The reconstitution of the garden was also intended to link two contemporary buildings (a cultural center and a secretariat) located at either extreme of the site.
Prior to the intervention, the park was noted for its three qanat - an indigenous irrigation system that employs interconnected wells and underground streams to transport water from distant locations.. The architect used the cascading pools of the central qanat to form the focal point of a new axis leading from the cultural centre to the secretariat. A series of paved terraces was introduced to define this processional sequence up the hillside, and careful attention was given to the choice of details and materials, such as the stone retaining walls, the contrasting use of marble and concrete, and traditional, blue ceramic tiles. Existing trees were carefully maintained throughout; a network of secondary pathways traverse the axis laterally, and the other two qanat are located here.
Symbolic significance is given to the entrance to the cultural center by the placement of an abstract, free-standing portal to mark transition from the park (a celebration of the creations in nature) to the cultural center (the creations of man). A pathway leads from the park, through the threshold of the portal, over a still pool of water, down four steps and into the serene sculpture court which forms the entrance to the museum, projection hall, and café-restaurants which comprise the programme of the cultural center.