2022 Special Mention in Hospitality

The ecolodge resort and recreational landscape project on the Poonehzar Farm are about the joy of dwelling outside, in the countryside. The design uses the existing corn fields, with their spatial and experiential maze qualities, as a starting point, inserting structures such as baths, an event platform, a fire pit and a lookout tower for temporary dwellings. These simple gestures establish a viewpoint and more intimate shelters or, better, a series of ‘rooms’ each with its purpose. It is remarkably simple and, at the same time, creative. The cornfield and the metal structure may be seen as a garden/labyrinth and a tower. The fact that the site is in culturally rich Iran adds a mythical dimension to the experience.

Poonehzar is a true garden built of agricultural material. The field of corn makes it ‘another space’ and adds to the enchantment. Or, in the words of the designers, »highlighting the boundaries of private and common, the playful childish sneak peeks, the innocent erotic air, the mania of being lost, the suspense of diving in imagination.« This is, in fact, a beautiful description of the meaning of a garden, be it physical or mental space.

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After roving over the mountains of the northern Fars region, passing by the nomads rising their temporary settlements and shepherds wandering with their herds in the high pastures of Mount “Barmfirouz”, one would arrive at “Komehr”, a small village surrounded by peaceful agricultural fields. A patchwork of diverse eco-textures. Our landscape enhancement and ecolodge design project “Poonehzar” is in the middle of that area. A destination for adventurers in the summertime to escape from the hot weather and in the wintertime to enjoy the snow and the ski slopes of the region.

The program was to design a resort area including cabins and recreational landscape areas. We actively took part in the project from the program design phase. It was planned with perceptive business development and the great engagement of every actor in a creative collaboration of a community-based team.

We attempted to find a way to intervene in the rich ecological texture of the site in a subtle and corresponsive way. The character of the proposal had to be aligned with the farm in terms of temporality and lightness. Consequently, to benefit from the farm’s flexible and organic growth was the objective. We aimed to highlight our interaction with nature and embody and symbolize it with an architectural and spatial narrative.

After several site visits and camping in the area, we created a master plan proposing the approach to treat the landscape. A very significant part of the land was the cornfield. We started to build on the classic concept of a corn maze for the rebirth of new ideas. Some leisure spaces were defined to host both social and individual activities responding to the mysterious character of the maze and its interaction with the natural context. As per an unexpected encounter, highlighting the boundaries of private and common, the playful childish sneak peeks, the innocent erotic air, the mania of being lost, the suspense of diving in imagination are all translated into architecture.

After entering the reshaped maze, one would step into a public space and a gathering area. This has provided room for an event platform and a warm place where you can watch a film or sit around the fire. The perimeter of the area opens to a whole world of unknown experiences.

Away from the crowd, where the people have slipped away to find their corner, there are unique places to bathe, rest, or sleep.

We built the viewpoint tower on the edge of the farm. It creates a panoramic view on a wooden deck where you notice the immense tranquility of nature while the breeze gently waves over the farm.

The project was realized with a sustainable approach as well. The set footprint is minimum, and the materials are upcycled and selected from local supplements. We collaborated with local workers and developed community-based and experimental teamwork to construct the project. We managed to execute the process in a flat hierarchy based upon openness, learning, enjoying, and inclusion for everyone.

Poonehzar-Farm is a project designed and built around experiment and playfulness, a place to be used as well around the same spirit: a new perspective to basic activities while inhabiting nature respectfully and sustainably.

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