Écochard: Mashhad Center Renovation Project

In 1971 Michel Écochard surveyed the city center of Mashhad, Iran to make a proposal for the renovation of the area around its primary monument, the Shrine Complex of Muhammad Riza. This shrine, which commemorates the eighth Shi'a imam, makes Mashhad the country's most important spiritual center, and is a pilgrimage site for Shi'a Muslims around the world. The shrine attracts millions of faithful per year.

At the time of Écochard's survey, Mashhad had experienced a surge in population and was becoming crowded. The area around the shrine was completely developed, with shops, traditional hotels, and bazaars adjoining the various buildings of the shrine complex. Several arterial avenues guided vehicular traffic onto a ring avenue encircling the shrine and the adjoining buildings, creating congestion in the immediate area. In Écochard's opinion, the ring avenue and built up area between it and the shrine obstructed the beauty of the historic monuments.1 

Écochard's plan included clearing the shops and bazaars that adjoined the complex's buildings, surrounding the perimeter with a water feature, and converting the ring avenue to an open pedestrian zone to which public gardens and parks adjoined. Further away, a new ring-road would connect the various arterial avenues of the city to one another and provide access to the open zone around the shrine complex. While this plan was never realized, the areas around the shrine were cleared in 1973.2 


  1. Michel Écochard. Mashhad. ND. Available at https://archnet.org/publications/1305
  2. B. Hourcade and M. Streck. "Mashhad." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Editionhttp://dx.doi.org.libproxy.mit.edu/10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_1426



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