Embracing Imperfection: The Architecture of Habibeh Madjdabadi

In this presentation, renowned Iranian architect Habibeh Madjdabadi will share insights into her diverse portfolio of projects in Tehran. Madjdabadi’s work demonstrates a deep appreciation for the city’s rich architectural heritage, as well as a drive to forge new, innovative approaches to contemporary design that embrace the concept of human approximation.



Madjdabadi will discuss two commercial and office building projects located in the historic “Palestine” neighborhood of central Tehran. These buildings aim to create a dialogue between the past and present, drawing inspiration from the area’s Art Deco and traditional architectural styles. One project, called “The Square”, incorporates elements of a demolished brick building, using a randomized pattern of concrete panels to evoke the memory of the old structure. The other project, “The Street”, features a facade of curved, porous terracotta shells that contrast with the rigid orthogonal forms of the surrounding buildings. The centerpiece of the presentation will be Madjdabadi’s exploration of the concept of “human approximation” in two projects: the House of Approximation and the 40 Knots House.



The House of Approximation, a single-family home, features a facade composed of over 3,000 handmade wooden cylinders, each cut and shaped by the construction workers themselves. This process-driven approach celebrates the inherent variations and imperfections of craftsmanship, in contrast to the precision of industrial production.



The 40 Knots House, a modest apartment building constructed on a limited budget in one of Tehran’s less affluent neighborhoods, was recognized as a finalist for the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016. This project stands as a testament to Madjdabadi’s unwavering commitment to providing thoughtful, high-quality architecture that serves the needs of all members of society, regardless of their socioeconomic status. By demonstrating that even a low-budget project can embody innovative design principles and create meaningful living spaces, the 40 Knots House challenges the notion that architecture is a luxury reserved only for the elite. Through this project, Madjdabadi affirms her belief that architecture has the power to uplift and enrich the lives of people from all walks of life and that it should be accessible to and inclusive of all members of the community. Through these diverse projects, Madjdabadi will share her strategies for navigating the challenges and constraints of working as an architect in Tehran, where architecture is not always a priority for the authorities. Her work reflects a deep understanding of the architect’s role in shaping the built environment and creating a dialogue between tradition and innovation while embracing the beauty of imperfection.