In the desert, the air is dry and hot. The sun beats down hard. Day after day, the landscape is the same. There is no place to go but through. Eventually, you will encounter water. Perhaps it’s just a small amount, but soon you will begin to find more. The moisture cradles your face and the sound of a running stream kisses your ears.
This is the picture Todd Gabbard, associate professor of architecture, painted in the minds of students and staff on Thursday in Regnier Forum.
The K-State Book Network hosted a panel inspired by the architecture and cityscape of Iran — specifically the city of Yazd, which is located in the heart of the country. Iran is the one of the settings in this year’s common read, “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram.
The lecture hosted five participants who shared their thoughts on Iranian landscape and culture.
Gabbard discussed different aspects of Iranian art and the landscape of Persian gardens and how they came to be.
“There was sort of a cosmological idea play here that the universe has a certain order but within that order, there’s also randomness,” Gabbard said. “And so we saw both of these things occur in these ancient garden formations. And that’s come through to today.”
The gardens use complex water transportation systems to deliver water to the plants within cities, creating a lush area that contrasts against the barren desert. Gabbard said that while the gardens are beautiful, they are also a place for residents to visit and unwind.
“This is what you did, you know, you kind of come here, and you sit and relax, and have a picnic and you commune with your friends and neighbors,” Gabbard said. “And it’s just a fantastic place to be.”
Dorna Eshrati, graduate student in environmental design and planning, was born in Iran and reflected on the culture of tea in the country, including how it is prepared and its importance to the society. Eshrati said drinking tea is a cornerstone in Iran.
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“Tea must be hot in Iran,” Eshrati said. “So we don’t have iced tea that much. Some coffee shops do serve them, but it’s not very popular.”
Eshrati said there are many different herbal teas in Iran.
“As soon as you complain about any physical or mental issues to your mom, or your grandma, they would prescribe one of these,” Eshrati said as she presented a photo of herbal teas to the audience.
Another speaker, Sara Hadavi, assistant professor in landscape architecture, is also Iranian and she spoke heavily on gardens and the role they play in Iranian life. Hadavi said the gardens are influenced by multiple aspects of life.
“In addition to water, the fruit trees, shade trees and architectural elements are integral parts of what we call the Persian garden,” Hadavi said. “And if you step back and think of these three elements, you see that well, actually, these three elements are integral parts of human life, right?”
Hadavi said the gardens offer a sense of peace and serenity for those wishing to relax. She said the gardens are walled in, which helps keep the flora and fauna inside cool and moist in contrast to the hot desert outside.
“At the same time, it gives some sense of protection and privacy when you get in, so when you enter the garden, it feels like you are entering a whole different world,” Hadavi said. “And it gives you a sense of detachment from its surroundings.”