Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Talk at TMOCA

Eskandar Mokhtari, Heritage Preservationist -Ali M. Saadati, Head of Urban Design, Tehran Municipality - Ahmad Maleki, Hirsa Consulting 

On July 11th, we held a talk with important actors concerned with the Tehran Garden Festival. Eskandar Mokhtari who is responsible for the most important preservation projects in Iran, (including the Bam Citadel), expressed his enthusiasm and support for considering the qanat as a heritage and  device to revive the city. The city is well aware of the logistical difficulties of bringing Mehrgerd's water back to surface. There was a mutual agreement between everyone on the pannel that the garden festival was a noteworthy project to pursue.  The new calendar anticipates for the gardens to be inaugurated in October 2017.

Mapping MehrgerdTehran Museum of Contemporaty Art, July 10 & 11 2016 E

Friday, July 15, 2016

Art City and Landscape in Tehran

The Tehran Filtering Garden Festival is in collaboration with the Art, City, and Landscape festival imagined by Gilbert Fillinger, the director of the Cultural Centre of Amiens. Gilbert Fillinger was in Tehran to support the exhibition in Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
photo Pejman Foundation

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

We were very honored to have François Sénémaud, the Ambassador of France, at our exhibition, Mapping Mehrgerd. The French government has engaged itself to support the Filtering Garden Festival, and we hope that next year this time we will be planting downtown for the revival of the capital's oldest qanat.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Exhibition at TMOCA

Mapping Mehrgerd is the research phase of Tehran Filtering Garden Festival*, a project for the revival of Tehran’s abandoned qanats. Exhibition at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art on July 10th .

Monday, June 27, 2016

Seek and you will find*

Mapping Mehrgerd in Tehran

In his 1974 study and translation of the XIth century Persian hydrology treaty, “The civilisation of hidden waters”, Ali Mazaheri alludes that the Bible’s verse “Seek and you will find” ensues from this very culture.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Relationship between parts and the whole

The common sense idea that the sum of the parts will be equal to the whole is not always true, and what is truer still is: The whole is more than the sum of the parts because the whole belongs to a higher plane than the parts.

Friday, April 1, 2016


Meeting with Tehran's organisation of Green Spaces's director Mr. Mokhtari 

*Entering a qanat with Mr. Moradi, chief in charge of Tehran's 12th district qanats

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Downtown Tehran's hidden waters


After 3 weeks of research and field work with our team, we've decided to work on Mehrgerd qanat. Being Tehran's original and oldest qanat it also has an impressive water debit of 200 litres per second, making it an underground river. The 5 sites for the filtering Garden Festival will be chosen on the 5km path of Mehrgerd, from its mother-well to its appearance. Each garden will be the opportunity to make the invisible, visible.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Tehran Filtering Garden Festival* is an applied research project in partnership with Tehran’s 12th district Municipality and the Art, City and Landscape festival of Amiens. The project will create five filtering gardens downtown Tehran as permanent public spaces. The urban gardens will collect, filter, and store water from the abandoned qanat network. The project aims to raise awareness for the reappraisal of this ancient water irrigation system that still carries water, but is considered archaic today. The gardens address the critical issues of climate change, and the depletion of natural resources, by making water recycling visible in public space. As new liminal spaces in the city, the gardens will also address questions of heritage and preservation. How can they operate as archetypes for a collective narrative of genius loci by becoming acupuncture points that will heal and revive the capital’s historic core ?

Chosen participants will collaborate in all three phases of the project taking place from January to September 2017. These phases cover research, a 10 day design workshop in April, and fabrication. Candidates should send CV cover letter and portfolio to


*the project is with ESA-LAB, the brand new research lab at Ecole Spéciale d'Architecture

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tehran Filtering Garden Festival Launch

Early November, HydroCity was in Tehran with Gilbert Fillinger, the director of Maison de Culture d'Amiens and Chilperic de Boiscuillé, founder of the Nature and Landscape School of Blois, to meet with Tehran's 12th district municipality.  We are very lucky to be part of the downtown revival planned by Tehran's mayor Ghalibaf, who has justly designated the historic core as the capital's gem. The festival will create five filtering gardens downtown Tehran as permanent public spaces; urban gardens that will collect, filter, and store water from the abandoned qanat network. 


HydroCity would like to thank the Soudavar Family Foundation and the Flora Family Foundation for being the first sponsors and supporters of this project. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

RE-USE Yazd on show at UNESCO-ICQHS

as part of the 2nd IWA Workshop on Qanats held in November

RE-USE YAZD looks at how this ancient city, who not long ago lived in total accordance in the harsh conditions of the desert, through an elaborate earthen architecture, can be revived by the RE-USE of its abandoned water network.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sustaining Biodiversity /// Architecture and Landscape find themselves today at the intersection of a new approach in Urbanism, driven foremost by a global ecological crisis that no longer absorbs Modernism’s agenda of a universal and atopic* space. The main concept relies on a renewed interest in heritage, a heritage interlocking nature and culture as an inseparable set in understanding a site, and directing its programs.

* [a] from ancient greek, without 
[topos] site or place

Monday, September 7, 2015

The origin of the word qanat

The word qanat comes from the Akkadian word qanu*, which designates reeds, and later in latin gave canna, and eventually became canal. So in short the word is a morphological derivation of a hollow elongated stem to mean a tunnel or gallery that carries water. What's interesting in the persian language is that the word for sugar comes from the same root "qand" ( ghand), alluding to the same form of the sugar cane. 

*Les Qanats, Henri Goblot, 1979, French geologist who published the most comprehensive study on the topic.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Russian Waters in Iran

The Caspian sea, the world's largest lake is mainly sourced by Russia's Volga river (80%). The Volga being the largest river in Europe (in terms of discharge), crossed by 11 major cities, including Moscow. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Round Table Conference

A conversation with:
Nicolas Michelin, Architect and Urbanist, ANMA
Chris Younés, Philosopher, ESA
Amir Farman-Farma, Economist, Connexion Capital
Ali Semsar Yazdi, UNESCO-ICQHS

moderated by Sara Kamalvand & Edouard Sors


75010 PARIS


*This event is sponsored by Connexion Capital

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Librairie Volume

At our exhibition at La Manne in Paris, Samuel Hoppe, of the amazing Volume Library, has made a selection of books on Iran. From Sadegh Hedayat, to Kiarostami, Zarathustra, a treaty of earthen architecture, and more to be discovered at the foundation... 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


June 10th - July 31st
La Manne
11 rue des Petites Ecuries
Paris 75010
Ecole Spéciale D'Architecture
Ecole de la Nature et du Paysage
Ecole d'Art et Architecture de Yazd
Curated by : Sara Kamalvand, Gaëtan Kohler, Edouard Sors

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Interviewed by Emmanuelle Borne

"Nouvelle Vague" is how the editor in chief of AA describes the new binome of water and cities. In our interview we express how the re-use of traditional practices can place water as a design agent of place-making. We also talk about our upcoming Garden Festival in Iran. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Je voudrais faire une analogie avec les ruines de Rome. Pourquoi ? Parce que ça relève exactement du même bagage historique mais eux ils ont la chance que c’est en plein air, et vous toute la mémoire d’une constitution d’une société qui va du pied de la montagne jusqu’ici et plus bas est entièrement souterraine. Mais du coup je la considère comme indestructible… On peut casser des temples, on peut casser tout ce qu’on veut mais on ne peux pas casser ce que vous avez là et ça c’est fabuleux en même temps. "

Extrait du discours de clôture de Alain Richert, Mesocity Tehran Workshop, 2012

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Post-Workshop Photo Exhibition

The Landscape students who came to Yazd for the workshop are holding a photo exhibition in Blois February 11th to March 4th 2015
Photos by Charlotte Kende, Albane Poirier, Hermine de Chavanes, Anais Ancelin

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We're going to Blois !

Very excited to be in Blois tonight to hear the Landscape students present their Workshop .
ph Re-Use Yazd Workshop

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We will miss you Alain Richert, man of all trades, geographer, architect, gardner, painter.
Your guidance echoes eternally in our minds.
photo Bruno Suet

Monday, December 8, 2014

Photo by Antoine Feldman, Re-Use Yazd 8-17 November 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Inventing the new rural


TEAM: Isabel Hérault - Professor, Thierry Ruf - Professor / Mabel Miranda (ADM), Daniel Hazanas (ADM), Antoine Feldmann (ENSNP), Bahareh Ghazaei (Yazd) , Vahid Mehrab (Yazd), Mahboob Homaee (Yazd), Maryam Omidvari (Yazd) Mahshid Radaei  (Yazd), Mahjabin Radaei (Yazd) 

As part of the Re-Use Yazd Workshop, HydroCity invited Catherine Willis to create an olfactif installation in an 18th c. garden in Yazd. This event was made possible with the support of UNESCO-ICQHS, and the school of Art and Architecture of the University of Yazd. With the participation of Professor Ali Sharifi and his art students. Mrs. Willis was assisted also by Massoud Kowsar.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


One of our four case studies, is the Qassemabad qanat, which is well over 300 years old, and continues to irrigate water to what used to be a village outside the city.  Today the village has become an urban agricultural pocket with 4 hec of farmland ! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Catherine Willis, Paris based artist is invited to create a public installation around the abandoned qanat system in Yazd. 

+++you have been here sometime+++

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gaetan Kohler and Sara Kamalvand at the Hassan Abad qanat, between Mehriz and Yazd
photo by Edouard Sors September 2012

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tehran Downtown Revival

There are two overt spaces the qanat network links to and from: the mountain's watervalleys, and the city's historic core. Therefore the qanat creates links, bonds, and ties between three entities, the mountain where they take source,  the suburbs they cross, and the historic core where they deject. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yazd's medicinal wild flower

Devil's dung, a stinky plant, endemic to Yazd was long part of the city's economic prosperity. Ferula assa-foetida(Apiaceae) is a medicinal plant that grows only wild. A gum resin, called Anghoze in Persian is obtained from its roots. It has been reported to be antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, laxative, sedative, nerving, analgesic, anthelmintic, antiseptic, and also has good effects on male fertility. It' s an aphrodisiac. Its also the main ingredient in Worcester sauce !

"If Inheritance involves transmission and memory, it is also open to questioning. For the first time in humanity, individualism and a type of generalized disinheritance are associated". 

Chris Younès, in Paradoxes of Patrimonialisation and Disinheritance


Drawing Yazd's qanats, we are astonished by their direction. Crossing the city diagonally, they seem to connect more to the urban corridor formed with Meybod and Mehriz, than to the Shirkuh mountain range.

La ville de Terre

Yazd, old city, aerial photo 1975

The 3000 year old city of Yazd is long under a decaying process. The city's architectural typology is an outstanding ode to the "organic". To our flawless capacity to adapt. The harsh heat and aridity of the desert has produced a range of earthen architecture, interior courtyards and wind towers intrinsic with the qanat. 

Monday, June 23, 2014


Hassanali Zad, Behzad Khosravi, Mojgan Bakhtiari, of NAFAS infront of their White Wall project, announcing  their collaboration with HydroCity for Tehran's qanat revival.

#nafasngo Mohsen Gallery, June 17th 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Conference at Mohsen Gallery

On June 16th, in the presence of Dr. Masjed-Jamei, Tehran's City Councilor, we were able to talk about air pollution and the potential of qanats as an immense filtering source, through the creation of a multitude of gardens of various typologies, such as green roofs or green walks.

Sara Kamalvand of HydroCity and Behzad Khosravi of NAFAS

Sunday, June 15, 2014


On May 23rd HydroCity presented Tehran's qanats in Paris as part of the colloquia organized by Iranian architect Mina Saidi. The event took place at the Palais de Chaillot on four consecutive days as an invitation and opportunity to open a window on Central Asia's capital. Different aspects of the city were presented through film projections, conferences, and debates. Two major themes were tackled: Tehran's massive informal growth, and the role of artists in the representation of their city. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


The Mehrgerd qanat, is considered to be over seven hundred years old, and continues to flush water daily. The gallery runs at eighty meters below the city's surface, that's approximateley the equivalent in height to a  24 storey tower. Its water is used several times along the way before it reaches Toopkhouneh, (or Imam Khomeini square its post-revolution name). This is one of the original qanats that arrived to the gate of the Safavid city, the other being Sarcheshmeh. 
 Diagram by Behzad Khosravi-Nouri (NAFAS)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Whatever the future of Iran's qanat system may be, it stands out today as an impressive example of a determined and hardworking people's achievement. The 22,000 qanats in Iran, with their 170,000 miles of underground conduits all built by manual labor, deliver a total of 19,500 cubic feet of water per second - an amount equivalent to 75 percent of discharge of the Euphrates River into the Mesopotamian plain. This volume of water production would be sufficient to irrigate three million acres of arid land for cultivation if it were used entirely for agriculture. It has made a garden of what would otherwise have been an uninhabitable desert."
by H. E. Wulff, The Qanats of Iran, Scientific American, April 1968