Mahan Garden: Interpretation of Ecological Design Principles

Subject: Design
Pages: 9
Words: 2466
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: College


Due to the hostile environment in the Persian Plateau, gardening design was improvised so as to cope with the negative factors brought about by this. This has led to an improvised design of gardening that adapts to the harsh Iranian landscape. Persia is centrally located in what is today referred to as Iran. It had had its gardening structure expand due to the effective engineering system consisting of water that was delivered through underground channels referred to as the qanats (Ansari & Mahmood 20). Qanats are aqueducts that supplied water from two mountains (Albourze and Zagros) which collected water from the snow at the tip into the gardens for human use.

The gardens from ancient history were for different purposes including poetry but most importantly they were for cultivation. They were constructed to form quadrant shapes with water channelled into the gardens to form geometrical basins. As the water flowed down there was an intersection that was used to view the beautiful gardens. The viewing point is in modern day referred to as the pavilion, a structure that is synonymous with the heaven complexity. The geometric shapes represented the corners of the universe as well as the four rivers that are believed to flow into paradise. It is important to note that this tradition originated from Mesopotamia many years before the Islamic era (Khansari 30). The Persians or the Iranians have maintained this culture throughout the long history.

The modifications of the Persian gardens’ architecture are as a result of climatic conditions, geographical landscape and traditions with regard to light and reflection. The author of this paper is going to analyze the principles that the Persian People used to create these attractive gardens.

There are different types of Persians Gardens. These include Fin Garden, a piece of land characterized by its location on a flat ground. The others include Aquatic Garden, House Garden and gardens on steep slopes such as the Mahan garden which the author is going to use as a point of reference in this study.

As a matter of fact, the principle can be used in prone areas with climate inadequate to support human life and safeguarding the environment. The ecology can be designed to achieve a promising environment that is peaceful for the survival of human beings. People have been challenged by different kinds of climatic conditions, some accommodating life and others difficult to bear. This results to the movement of people from one point to another. Ecology analysis can provide an answer to this problem. The author will use the example of a Persian garden as a point of reference. In this case the author will use Mahan Garden as the case study.

Background Information

The people of Iran have always desired to have a symbol of the heavens referred to as the paradise represented by the way they have structured their gardens. The gardens have remained green throughout the seasons despite the little water tapped from the melting snow on top of the mountains streaming down the valley. What has fascinated most is the art of creating the gardens in conceptual patterns and landscape. There are small gardens owned mostly by individuals or a family and due to inadequate supply of water, they are unable to transform into plantations (Kiani 12).

As the author analysed the characteristics of the Persian gardens, it became obvious that various studies have been carried out from different backgrounds. To this end, elements like soil and plants have been used to bring out a spectacular pattern (Khansarik 151). In this case, Mahan has been studied critically using a descriptive approach.

There are three elements guiding the thriving Mahan gardens. These are plants, water and land. These are analysed below:


The Koran narrates the importance of trees in our environment. The act of cutting down trees is highly condemned by the Holy Book. Iranians follow the teachings of the holy Koran which describes the green trees in paradise. Given the fact that inadequate water is a fact in Iran, the need to capture the little that is available for the garden use is of great importance and has resulted to the Persian garden (Hob 192). In Mahan, trees serve different purposes, becoming important ornaments. Since the area is characterised by harsh climates, trees are mostly planted along the streets for fruits, shade and many more. For example flowers which signify purity are of great use especially in palaces which signifies purity and around the gardens. These areas are surrounded by beautiful flowers with attractive scents. Along the streams trees are planted to capture the water from the melting snow on top of the mountains (Turner 112).


A variety of land levels are exhibited in the Mahan garden. The area is characterised by steep slopes that makes it hard to make water run down the gardens smoothly. A waterfall set on a steep slope can be used as a mechanism to channel water to the fields to grow crops and cool down the environment in the area.


Water that flows freely down the slopes draws a lot of interest from the Iranians. It is a significant element in the environment that makes it possible for the gardens to thrive. Water can become conceptual, functional as well as aesthetic elements of the gardens. As the author of this paper has explained earlier, water flows through qanats channels that pass underground. Though a large section of the land does not have access to water supply, the little land that has access to water forms a spectacular view in the otherwise unappealing landscape (Carroll 67).

The emphasis on geometry is to determine the axis using different forms. For example the axis is formed by the paths that lead to the gardens and those that surround the gardens which are squared (Mansoori 74).

The Mahan land is characterised by soils that are fertile and this promotes gardening. Mild winds are also experienced in this area. Most of the water used in the Mahan is sourced from Tigaran which supplies water to this barren and arid land (Mansoori 45).

Streams of water flow from the mountains close to Tigaran with a qanat supplying water to the garden (Barati 28). As stated earlier in this paper, a steep slope leads to easy flow of water which is an advantage to the area since water flows from a higher level. The irrigation has made it possible to grow crops in the gardens (Tavakoli 58).

Before the author embarks on the actual study, first there is need to ask research questions as far as the Persian gardens are concerned. These are the questions that will be addressed in this study. This will help the reader to understand fully what the study sought to address. It will also make the reader understand the purpose of the study with no ambiguities left.

Research Questions

As the author has stated earlier, the study was guided by a number of questions which they sought to address. By answering these questions, the researcher will in effect be addressing the purposes and objectives of the study.

The major focus of this study is to interpret the ecological design in the creation of a Persian garden.

The following questions were formulated for this study:

Major Research Question

What are the ecological design principles behind the creation of Mahan Persian Garden?

Specific Research Questions

  1. What are the ecological design principles behind the creation of the Mahan garden?
  2. What is the source of water used in the Mahan Garden and is the source permanent or seasonal?
  3. What initiated the rise of the Persians gardens and why are they still relevant to date?
  4. What is the role of land according to the Persian people?
  5. Can the principles behind Mahan Garden be adopted elsewhere especially in places with harsh climatic conditions?

The questions are adequate to guide a concrete research. They are important in that they will give the reader an idea on why Persians decided to design the gardens.

Research Problem

At this juncture the researcher will state the research problem or problem statement. This is the problem around which the study will be conducted.

In the modern world, there is a real threat to the environment for example due to rapid industrialization. This has led to degradation of the environment. There are other places that are unfit for human survival and which can be improvised to support life. These areas perceived to be difficult to live in can be harnessed and developed into useful places to live in.

Huge swathes of land are left unused given the fact that they cannot support life. This is despite the fact that there is overpopulation in other areas which are perceived to be habitable. Many people move away from unproductive land since they do not have the means and skills to improve it. This is where ecological architects come in since they will be used to design gardens in such ‘unproductive’ areas.

Cutting down of trees without replacing them is a threat to the universe. This is given the fact that it leads to increased rates of desertification. When the land becomes unproductive as a result of desertification, people will tend to move away (Pirnia 188). Many people have abandoned their culture which provided ways for preserving the environment (Wilber & Ackeman 144).

Objectives and Aims of the Field Study

At this point, the author is going to give the aims and objectives of the research. These are the goals that the author set out to achieve in conducting this study. To this end, the reason for carrying out the study will be put into perspective. The purpose of this section is to provide the reader with an idea on what the author intended to find during the study. It is noted that the objectives of the study are related to the research questions. This is given the fact that by addressing the research questions, the researcher will in effect be addressing the aims and objectives of the study. This study had one major objective and several specific objectives.

The following are the objectives and aims of the study:

Major Objective

Identify and analyse the major ecological design principles behind the creation of Mahan Persian Garden

Specific Objectives

  1. Identify and map out the ecological principles behind the creation of the Mahan Garden
  2. Identify and analyse the source of water for the Mahan garden
  3. Analyse the factors that led to the creation of Mahan and the reason why such gardens are still relevant
  4. Identify the importance of land in Mahan garden
  5. Analyse and assess whether the ecological design principles behind Mahan Garden can be adopted for other places with similar climatic conditions

Significance of the Study

In section 1.5 above, the author stated the objectives and aims of the study. At this point, the researcher will analyse the significance of the study. This will help the reader understand the importance of the findings that will be made in this study. The reader will be able to appreciate the contributions that this study will make to the larger field of architectural design and specifically the design of Persian gardens.

The following are some of the uses of the findings that will be made in this study:

  1. The findings of this study will architectures in appreciating the architectural designs of ancient Persian gardens such as Mahan
  2. The findings will help stakeholders identify the importance of ecological designs in meeting the needs of humanity in harsh climatic conditions
  3. The findings will also help stakeholders in coming up with designs that will improve the conditions of life of people living in harsh environments
  4. The findings will also help stakeholders in duplicating the ecological principles of the Mahan garden to other parts of the world
  5. The findings will help designers in coming up with designs that conserve the environment while improving the life of people at the same time
  6. It is important also to note that the study allows us to understand the importance of the culture and religion of people and how this relates to the environment. We will be able to appreciate how culture can promote the environment and revamp barren land to support life (Pope 256)

Study Area

The study will take the Mahan Garden in Shazdeh region as its case study. This being the case, the author based the study on Persian gardens specifically. This is the study area of the research. As already noted, there are several examples of Persian gardens in existence today. However, the researcher opted for Mahan garden given the fact that it was felt the gardens occupies a central role in the lives of people in the region. The gardens also have a unique architectural design that attracts the attention and curiosity of any architecture (Ansari 28).

Definitions of Key Terms and Variables

Key Terms


This is a term used by people in Iran to refer to underground channels that facilitates the flow of water to the garden (Donald 45).


This is a garden building designed to cool naturally. Pavilions form intelligent passive voices (Khansarik 34).


There were several variables taken into consideration in this research. These were both independent and dependent variables. Independent variable was the ecological design of Mahan garden. Dependent variables included type of land and the level of steepness in relation to land.

Limitations and Delimitations

This study had several limitations and delimitations. These are as follows:

  1. The study was limited to Mahan Persian garden in Shazdeh region. This is despite the fact that there are other Persian gardens in Iran and other parts of the Arab world
  2. The study focused solely on the ecological design principles of the garden. This is despite the fact that there are other principles surrounding the garden
  3. The study was limited to the architectural aspect of the gardens. Other aspects of the garden such as aesthetics were left out
  4. Other limitations included language barrier. As far as religion and culture are concerned, it was difficult to understand various Arabic terminologies and terms used in the literature


This study will adopt the case study methodology. To this end, the researcher is going to identify a Persian garden and interpret the ecological design principles behind the creation of that garden. The garden selected for this study is Mahan garden in Shazdeh region. There are several reasons, which informed the researcher’s selection of case study as the preferred methodology. One of them is the fact case study will allow the researcher to gain deep insight into the issue been studied. The focus on a single case will help the researcher to identify the various attributes of this phenomenon. However, the case study limits the researcher to one scenario despite the fact that there are various scenarios out there.

Works Cited

Ansari, Mohammed. Value of Persian Gardens. University of Tehran, 2007.

Ansari, Mohammed., & Mahmood, Hassan. Persian Gardens as a Metaphor of Paradise. Honar-ha ye ziba: Mager, 2007. Print.

Barati, Newton. Gardens and Construction of the Gardens in the Iranian Culture. Nazar: Nazar Institute, 2006. Print.

Carroll, Maureen. Earthly Paradises: Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology. London: British Museum Press, 2008. Print.

Donald, Wallace. Persian Garden and Garden Pavilions. Tehran: Elmi Farhangi Publishing, 2009. Print.

Hob, House. Garden of Persia. Nazar: Tehran Publishers, 2006. Print.

Khansari, Mehdi. The Persian Garden, Echoes of Paradise. Washington, D.C.: Mage Publishing, 1998. Print.

Khansarik, Mont. The Persian Garden: Cohoes of Paradise. Iran: Mage Publisher, 2009. Print.

Kiani , Malik. Iranian Architecture during the Islamic Period. Tehran: Tehran Publishers, 2004. Print.

Mansoori, Ayah. An Introduction to the Aesthetic of Iranian Gardens. Nazar: Nazar Institute Publishers. 2005. Print.

Pirnia, Mont. Islamic Architecture of Iran, Science and Industry. Tehran: University of Tehran, 2007. Print.

Pope, Assa. Persian Architecture. New York: Wisdom Publishers, 2005. Print.

Tavakoli, Newton. Structures and Historical Recognition of Iranian Gardens. Iran: Islamic Azad University Publishers, 2007. Print.

Turner, Tom. Garden History, Philosophy and Design, 2000 BC–2000 AD. New York: Spon Press, 2005. Print.

Wilber, David. & Ackeman, Patrick. The Persian Garden. New York: Mage Publishers 2008. Print.