Tehran’s ‘Nature Bridge,’ a Stolen Idea?

Tehran’s ‘Nature Bridge,’ a Stolen Idea?Tehran’s ‘Nature Bridge,’ a Stolen Idea?

The original designer of ‘Tabiat (Nature) Bridge,’ Iran’s largest pedestrian bridge which opened on October 12, 2014, is taking the Tehran Municipality to court.

Leila Araghian was recently introduced as designer of the unique structure, which has won several international architecture awards including the Popular Choice prize for Highways & Bridges from the Architizer A+ Awards, a global architectural competition based in New York.

However, documentation has revealed that the idea of the ‘Nature Bridge’ was plagiarized and the original designer has not been given credit for his contribution to the design.

Mahmoud Asadi, who claims to be the real designer of the project, has filed a lawsuit against the Tehran Municipality, claiming that the bridge plan was based on his idea.

“Several years ago I was sent to Austria for a mission. While I was on a trip to the state of Innsbruck (western part of Austria), I visited a beautiful bridge which connects both sides of a valley to shorten the route,” Asadi said.

“In early 2006, after returning home from the mission, the idea came to my mind that we can also build a similar bridge over Modarres Highway to connect Ab-o-Atash Park and Taleghani Forest Park,” Asadi told Tabnak News Agency, adding that “I thought that the bridge could be multi-level, so a level could be allocated to restaurants to generate maintenance costs of the bridge.”

“Thus, I gave a written plan to the (Tehran) municipality,” he added.

Later, officials who contacted Asadi referred him to the investing organization, the Tehran Municipality (TM).

The TM asked him to design his project, ‘Restaurant Bridge’ and to give them the technical drawings; following which Asadi asked one of the most renowned companies in the field of urban structures to sketch his idea.

In late 2006, he gave the technical drawings to the TM. On May 26, 2007, the municipality gave “approval in principle”, but postponed its implementation “until after finding an appropriate location and evaluation of some regulations.”

Asadi who didn’t have enough time and money to follow on the plan implementation, had no choice but to wait.  “I didn’t get any response from the municipal authorities till May 2008, when I was sent to Jordan on a four year mission again.”

“When I returned from the mission, I realized that my project with a fake name was under implementation,” he said, adding that “Only few changes were made in order to make a little difference, but generally it was the same.”

The TM’s officials answer was that the project “is not just a bridge, not a restaurant, and it is a different project.”

“I have all documents which prove I have been the designer of the bridge including the project proposal which had been approved by TM,” he said.

At present, Asadi has employed a lawyer to prove his claims. “ However, if the municipality provides another location for me to run my own idea, I will withdraw my complaint, he said.