Last Thoughts on Campus Planning by Georges Candilis: Bu Ali Sina University (1973–1978)

Article published in ACE: Architecture, City and Environment (ISSN 1886-4805), 47, pp. 1-18.


A varied sample of campuses projects can be found in George Candilis’ prolific work. The most well-known are the Freie Universität Berlin and the Faculté de la littérature in Toulouse-Le Mirail by the Candilis-Josic-Woods firm but others were developed later by Candilis with several collaborators. Bu Ali Sina University in the Iranian city of Hamadan was his last opportunity to conceive a complete university from scratch. Between 1973 and 1978, Candilis and the Mandala Collaborative –a local firm founded by Nader Ardalan– jointly carried out the Master Plan and a first version of the campus project. In 1977, and due to a location’s change, a second version was planned and some of the facilities were finally built. At that time, the design was discreetly published in architectural magazines and recently the built set was included in a thesis on Ardalan’s work. Nevertheless, the campus has not been studied in-depth. This article takes as primary sources the documents available in the Candilis archives and focuses on the design process of the campus to reconstruct its narrative and stages. The objective is to revisit the Bu Ali Sina University, under the assumption that this endpoint of Candilis’ thinking is a condensation of a whole practice. This design is the confirmation of a particular way of understanding the university —open to the exchange of knowledge and as a tool for social progress—, which is shaped according to the modernity precepts while preserving its local identity.

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