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Rare midcentury villa by Gio Ponti facing wrecking ball in Iran

The Italian designer’s work is imperiled by plans for a new hotel

The exterior of Gio Ponti’s Villa Namazee in Tehran, Iran, which faces demolition.
Photo via Contemporary Architecture of Iran

It’s an age-old (development) tale: A low-slung house is slated to meet the wrecking ball, to be replaced by a 20-story hotel.

But the details of the latest installment of this familiar story set it apart from other tellings: The location is Iran’s capital, Tehran, and the house is Villa Namazee, a glorious pile by renowned Italian designer Gio Ponti, built circa 1960.

In a report, The Guardian’s Iran correspondent draws a stylistic line from Ponti’s Villa Namazee—one of only three such private residential commissions by Ponti—to the iconoclastic forms of architect Zaha Hadid and others to underscore the historic house’s importance.

While that’s a worthy insight, the house stands on its own design merits: The original interiors feature marble floors, a white-and-blue color palette, and an interior courtyard in a combination of the soignée midcentury aesthetic we know and love, and something more eclectic and postmodern, too. It feels fresh even half-a-century later.

#villanamazee #gioponti

A photo posted by DIACHRONIQUE (@diachronique) on

Villa Namazee | in Tehran Designed by Gio Ponti #savevillanamazee #villanamazee #gioponti #architecturewelove

A photo posted by J A S M I N S H O K R I A N (@jasminshokrian) on

Though the house, sold to a new owner last year, had been listed as a “national treasure,” a court granted the new owner permission to take the building off the register and “exchange it for other properties,” an official in Iran’s cultural heritage group told local news.

This sparked an outcry from architects in Tehran, who see the decision as a blow to the country’s architectural legacy, one compounded by the loss or neglect of other works by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Sydney Opera House mastermind Jørn Utzon in Iran.

A Change.org petition calling for Villa Namazee’s preservation has over 3,600 signatures. Read more about the fight over at The Guardian.