XXXXXX03 or Manticora.
The Well-Mannered Monster.
Entry for the Golgasht Competition, Tehran, Iran.
With Matteo Mannini
The common image of the mosque, or masjid, as a place for prayer was shaped after the twelfth century, during the Seljuk Empire. According to the Quran, the mosque did not imply a religious function; there was no spatial code for the act of individual prayer. Rather, it called for a physical manifestation of the Islamic political ideology inherent in the concept of ummah: the community of the faithful. It was a political apparatus installed in new lands to mobilize, manage, and control territories.
As a simple, expandable structure, it could provide basic necessities for the early Muslim communities. The mosque, therefore, was not just the center of the city, but actually the city itself. New settlements were constructed literally by “laying out” the mosque as a camp: a defined space, which served exclusively Muslim purposes. The mosque, then, in its early centuries, did not possess any advanced architectural form or precise function. It was merely meant to “exclude non-Muslims.”
Consequently the initial idea of the (Golgasht) project is derived from this particular reading of the essence of Islamic-Iranian architecture, which is the non-figurative monumentality. Like masjid every Islamic and Iranian archetype before fulfilling a need or serving a power, expresses specific conception of space which has remained constant despite the advent technological and economical development: organizing the space through inhabitable walls.
The inhabitable wall in fact is a device, a frame; by accommodating various forms of life it establish a spatial relation between the subjects (inhabitants), state and the territory. Historically this device is developed in shaping of particular architecture such as monasteries, which could hold the dialectical relation within the architecture of the city, aiming to construct the most ideal way of living on earth. Today, by the advent of global economy, project of the modern city has become precisely about the removing the boundaries.
Perhaps in these circumstances it is worth rethinking the significance of the ‘wall’ to reclaim a dissolved socio-political identity. Contemplating the idea of a city defined by edges reveals an alternative process based not on integration but on exclusivity where citizens (faithful bodies or believers) become the city itself as dwellers of inhabitable walls.
The Manticora is a Persian legendary creature with the body of a red lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth, sometimes bat wings, and a trumpet-like voice. The tail has poisonous spines to either paralyze or kill its victims. It devours its prey whole and leaves no clothes, bones, or possessions of the prey behind. Here, it represents the three parts of the project: the tail as the Garden of Knowledge, the body as the Garden of Force, the head as the Garden of Spirit.