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Freedom's Tomb,
a thousand graves in the form of a tomb

KARAJ, IRAN - 1999


- Land Area: 4 Acres 

- Total Construction Area: 85,000 Square Feet 

- Status: Schematic Design 


The design of Freedom’s Tomb, later known as "The Checkered City," began during the lifetime of Ahmad Shamlou, a contemporary Iranian poet. Initially, the project aimed to design Shamlou's tomb with his permission and coordination. However, as the design process unfolded and Shamlou's poetry was read, the project evolved into a cemetery containing a thousand graves for the martyrs of freedom. During a project presentation night at Shamlou's home, it was decided in consultation with him that his grave would be one of these thousand graves.

The dome symbolizes the earth, surrounded by a thousand graves. The curvature of the cemetery's surface refers to the curvature of the earth, emphasizing its uniqueness. An uninterrupted corridor extends from the cemetery entrance to the dome, reaching the surface of the cemetery via a ramp encircling the dome. The regular and rhythmic lights in the hallway evoke the effect of two opposite mirrors reflecting an image to infinity. The single crooked light source on the dome hints at hope and the arduous path to freedom. The single grave inside the dome is dedicated to the unknown martyrs of freedom movements.

Initially, this plan was mentioned in Iranian media, but its progress was halted due to threats from unknown government officials and remains on hold. It is hoped that after the liberation of Iran, this project will be completed and built on land around Karaj and Tehran. Influenced by Shamlou's poetry, particularly forty-four of his poems, the cemetery is named “the Checkered City.” Shamlou's poems profoundly influenced the architecture of this building, effectively translating literature into architecture.

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