Examining Committee Members
Iranian communities constitute one of the largest settler ethnic groups in Toronto. Coming from diverse cultural backgrounds, Iranians become disconnected from their cultural norms and geographical roots following their migration to Canada. Despite diverse cultural backgrounds, social events and community gatherings in public spaces are consistent and important parts of Iranian cultural identity and lifestyle. However, the suburban context of Toronto forms an urban fabric and corresponding lifestyle that imposes limitations on social interactions and restricts gatherings to small meetings in private places. Emotional detachment and the feeling of being somewhere “in between” are the most notable consequences of living in this urban context. The aim of this thesis is to examine how a Persian cultural archetype can contribute to the creation of a sense of belonging for Persian communities living abroad. Here, the challenge was selecting urban forms that may more appropriately manifest Persian socio-cultural values. In this study, the paradigm of Persian gardens is discussed as an element of the built environment that is vital to Iranian national identity. An analysis of existing Persian cultural spaces in Toronto framed the approach of this thesis regarding the re-contextualization of the Persian garden paradigm. “In Transition” examines the flexibility and potential of a Persian archetype to be applied in a new urban context to provide a platform for Persian cultural celebrations in Toronto. This study investigates how a contemporary Persian garden can contribute to cross-cultural dialogue, providing a dynamic space for social integration, while remaining an anchor for the memory of a homeland. In doing so, two temporary wire mesh structures have been proposed to be installed in two different locations where a Persian cultural festival in Toronto is being celebrated. These two installations are designed based on the long-lasting principles of the Persian garden paradigm. The manifestation of this paradigm can be observed through the entire parts of the projects from determining the location of the installations on the site to the organization of the whole space and the material selection. While providing a home-like space for promoting social interactions during the Persian cultural festival, these two installations open a new insight toward re-interpretation of a Persian archetype and provide a learning platform to share the Persian history, art, and culture with Torontonians.