A bridge designed by an Iranian architect when she was still a student has become a tourist destination in Tehran.
Tabiat (“nature”) bridge, the largest of its kind in the country was Leila Araghian’s first project.
She designed it five years ago while a student, winning a local competition for a plan to connect two parks separated by a highway in the city.
It was built over a two year period and unveiled in late 2014 by Tehran’s mayor, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. It has since become a popular place for hangouts for visitors to the city as well as locals and last month, as Iranians celebrated an ancient festival of outdoor picnicking, thousands flocked to the bridge.
“I didn’t want it to be just a bridge which people would use to get from one park to another,” said Araghian, 31.
“I wanted it to be a place for people to stay and ponder, not simply pass.
“I used to say it’s just a piece of design on the paper, I couldn’t believe it would be built one day.”
Built on three large pillars, the 270-metre curved structure has broad entrances, multiple pathways and three floors of restaurants and cafes and sitting areas. It was recently named among the winners of a global architectural competition based in New York.
Araghian added: “It’s a good feeling to see people are enjoying it, to see them sitting on the benches or just hanging out. It gives me more confidence for my future work but when I come to think of it, it’s one of those things that you get to do only once in your lifetime.”
Araghian studied architecture at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University and together with a colleague, Alireza Behzadi, founded Diba Tensile Architecture The Italy-based Maffeis Engineering helped with the technical side of the Tabiat project.