Azizkhani, Mehdi. "Between the Past and the Future: Philip Johnson’s Design Thinking and Practice at GAI, Isfahan, Iran." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 6, Number 1 (pp. 121-148) , edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2017.
The scholarly discourse on modern architecture in the Middle East focuses in large part on the interactions and contradictions between the past and the future, and identifies the ways in which tradition and local history have become the source of inspiration for modern designs. While this discourse has addressed the political associations of this architecture rather well, detailed examinations of its design qualities are lacking. As a case study investigating this interesting relationship, this article examines the Group Apartments in Isfahan (GAI), designed by noted American architect Philip Johnson, in order to explore some of these design qualities. The article investigates the formation of GAI, including its design features and the architect’s design thinking and practice, within the local context of the historical city of Isfahan, Iran. By scrutinizing the story behind the formation of GAI, the case study presented here will look into the ways in which traditional buildings may inspire modern design, thereby providing a rich context to draw lessons for analysing other modern architectures of the Middle East.
Keywords: Group Apartments in Isfahan; Middle East; Philip Johnson; historic preservation; modern architecture; tradition