Tehran mall nears completion with nature-inspired interiors by U+A Architects

A new shopping centre called Parmis Mall is about to open in Tehran, Iran, with its interior design concept delivered by U+A Architects. According to the design team, the client had purchased a plot of land in one of the more upscale districts of the international city and provided a brief that asked for the building of a class-A shopping mall to attract high-end brands.

“The client also wanted to maximise their sellable area allowed within municipal rule, which meant that the mall would become a multi-story project,” adds Eileen Jaffary, senior interior architect, U+A Architects.

She adds: “The plot is located in one of the oldest and most beautiful streets in Tehran named Vali-Adr Street. This street connects the north of Tehran – the mountain side – to the south of Tehran. The magical part of this street is the beautiful trees that line both sides of the path, and whose colours change throughout the different seasons. They go from orange to green, so the concept for the mall was centred on these trees and the four seasons and their colours.”

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The entire mall measures at 16,869m2 and boasts nine floors that are above ground. The total budget for the project was $120,000,000, or AED440,000,000.

Upon entering the shopping centre, visitors are welcomed by fresh pops of green and natural materials. Additionally, the levels just above are all shaped organically following fluid forms that are lit up by architectural lighting. Looking up to admire the design provokes the sense of looking at streams of light left over by shooting stars.

Jaffary explains: “We tried to use a lot of natural stone that is available in Iran. The country has a lot of quarries that provide granite, travertine and limestone. So we proposed limestone and stainless steel for the façade of the building, while at the same time, sandstone and granite for the interior floorings.”

The schematic layout of the shopping mall consists of a central courtyard that leads up to an atrium via a ramp. Circling the atrium and courtyard are horse-shoe shaped levels where the shops are located. The arrangement of the project allows shoppers to circle the many levels in peaceful harmony while they explore the different shops located throughout.

“If you look at the plan and renderings,” says Jaffary, “you will notice that there are continued voids in very organic shapes which [connect] all the floors. In order to attract people and encourage them to visit the entire mall, we placed F&Bs as well as a supermarket on the lower floors, a food court on the second floor with access to the outdoor terrace and a high-end restaurant on the ninth floor which offers an amazing view of the city. We also allowed for other breakout areas on different floors.”

The colour palette consists of the different earthy tones that tint the trees throughout the seasons. These include deep reds, golden yellows, oranges, browns and greens. As for the material palette, while stone was heavily applied throughout, it was given warmth and enhanced by the usage of natural timber.

The food court is an excellent example of the combination of materials and colours used by U+A Architects. Stone and wood come together to create a basis for the burnt-orange chairs and green and grey flooring. Organic shapes form the ceilings, columns and flooring patterns, while large wooden booth seating provides a subtle geometry. The columns, which are stainless steel, are delicately lit at their access points with the ceiling, which offers a soft glow to the space.

The use of coloured glass with tree and leaf prints fully brings the tree-inspired concept to life. These glass panels are used throughout the shopping mall including the lift lobbies and the bathrooms, with each boasting different colours.

The bathrooms display soft autumn colours like golden yellows and deep browns, while giant glass panels with leafless trees decorate the wall by the sinks. Tile work above the mirrors ties in pearly hues and adds some softness to the overall bathroom design.

Wrapping around the mall are outdoor terraces that continue the colour scheme found inside, while the steel columns continue to add height and balance. Timber panels are vertically aligned along the ceiling’s path allowing glimmers of light to shine through while also providing shade on sunnier days. Geometric patterns in the flooring add subtle detailing and embellishment to the otherwise contemporary and modern design. Paths of architectural lighting intercept the ceiling and flooring designs adding elements of unpredictability.

“We designed the mall with international standards but localised the planning. The architectural planning of the mall works very well with the structure despite the fact that we have organic shapes for openings and different uses of [the levels] from the basement parking to the top restaurant,” explains Jaffary.

Jaffary faced a number of challenges throughout the project including the general difference between retail design in Iran to other parts of the Middle East.

She says: “There is a huge difference between retail design in Iran in comparison with other cities in the GCC including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. The ownership of shops and retail areas are under the buyers, which means that if the shop or retail size is more than 50m2, it will be very hard to sell the space because of the price.

So you end up having more shops and retail units, which means more circulations and [perhaps] less efficiency. “We worked a lot on the interior space arrangement to keep the mall efficient while attractive with no dead-end.”

Other challenges that the design team faced includes the site accessibility and plot shape, the large number of floors and the demand to bring in natural light to all the above-ground floors. However Jaffary insists that the “client team were very responsive to all our ideas and they respected the design we proposed.”

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