Towering copper memorial by Borheh
honours an Iranian philosopher

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Eight intersecting arches give a towering symmetry to this copper-coated mausoleum erected in the English countryside for a revered Iranian philosopher (photography by Edmund Sumner).

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

Designed by emerging London studio Borheh, the structure was built as a memorial to Javad Nurbakhsh – a master within the branch of Islam known as Sufism, which is thought by some to be a philosophy of existence that pre-dates religion.

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

The structure is located within a dense thicket of woodland in Oxfordshire, on a site chosen by Nurbakhsh, who spent the latter years of his life in England.

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

Raised off the forest floor on a tiered plinth, it comprises a ring of copper-coated steel triangles. These are expected to change colour as they gradually oxidise, allowing the tower to show its age.

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

"The mausoleum's blend of striking design and organic materials presents a refreshingly modern take on mysticism without detracting from its timeless spiritual ideals," said the architect in a statement.

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

The arched forms chosen reference some of the characteristic motifs of Persian architecture, creating a tower intended to demonstrate "geometrical perfection and simplicity".

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

"The mausoleum combines traditional Persian architecture with contemporary materials local to Iran, resulting in a construction that reflects the Iranian heritage of Dr Nurbakhsh, while remaining in keeping with the English landscape," said the architect.

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

The structure was built as a series of modules using local artisanal techniques in Iran. These were then shipped across to the UK and erected onsite.

Photography is by Edmund Sumner.

Here's a project description from Borheh:


Contemporary Sufi memorial brings Iranian mysticism to the heart of the English countryside

A mausoleum dedicated to the memory of a prominent Iranian Sufi master, Dr Javad Nurbakhsh (10th December 1926 – 10th October 2008), has recently completed construction. The mausoleum's blend of striking design and organic materials presents a refreshingly modern take on mysticism without detracting from its timeless spiritual ideals.

London based multidisciplinary creative studio, Borheh, have unveiled the completed mausoleum which adds a unique spiritual presence to the Oxfordshire countryside. Located near Banbury, England, the mausoleum stands on a beautiful natural location chosen by Dr Nurbakhsh himself during his lifetime. It is nestled amongst a dense wooded grove, named "the Forest", which was planted by Dr Nurbakhsh in the 1990s.

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

The mausoleum combines traditional Persian architecture with contemporary materials local to Iran, resulting in a construction that reflects the Iranian heritage of Dr Nurbakhsh, while remaining in keeping with the English landscape. The structure is created from copper-coated steel which will naturally change colour over time as it is exposed to the elements, allowing it to evolve and adapt organically within the forest.

Using traditional Persian architectural motifs, the mausoleum evokes the principles of Sufi mysticism with a unified display of geometrical perfection and simplicity. Eight overlapping triangular arches converge together in a form known as karbandy, maintaining a balance of strength and elegance across every point. The geometrical perfection of the form is manifested through its interaction with the sun, as the natural path of sunlight creates a unique pattern of shadows through the passing of the day.

Towering copper memorial by Borheh honours philosopher Javad Nurbakhsh

For minimum impact to the natural landscape, Borheh utilised an innovative approach to construction by following a modular method. Each part of the mausoleum was constructed separately in Iran, using local artisanal techniques. It was then transported to the UK and reassembled on site. While this was by no means an easy endeavour, the process ensured both the protection of the natural woodland that would be home to the mausoleum and remained faithful to the mausoleum's cultural heritage.

The project represents a combination of traditional artistic principles and cutting edge technologies – the ideal monument to the life and work of a modern mystic.