The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence
Berkeley Prize 2024

[ID:1871] To be, to become



“…Fereydun was one of descendants of Jamshid. Fereydun revolted against the tyrannical king “Zahh?k” and could defeat and arrest him in the Alborz Mountains. Afterwards Fereydun became the king ruled the country for about 500 years. At the end of his life he allocated his kingdom to his three sons; Salm, Tur, and Iraj. Iraj was Fereydun’s youngest and favored son and inherited the best part of the kingdom namely Iran. Salm inherited Asia Minor and Tur inherited central Asia respectively. This aroused Iraj’s brothers’ envy and encouraged them to murder him…”

Iraj said his father that I don’t want this kingdom because my brothers aren’t satisfied with this division, he said that happiness of his brothers is more important than anything else. Somebody who compares worth of fraternity with lands is less than a handful of soil and I am not such a person. I don’t pay attention what they say and what they do; I will go to tell them I don’t want this kingdom.

... But envy rankled in his brothers’ breast and murdered him.

“...After Iraj’s murder, Fereydun enthroned Iraj’s grandson, Man?chehr, before his decease. Man?chehr’s attempt to revenge his grandfather’s murder initiates the Iranian-Turanian wars...”

According to Ferdowsi’s “Shahnameh”, Iraj symbolizes love and sacrifice. In shahnameh the story of envy and revengefulness between humans start from here and continues. But Iranians which were descendants of Iraj who called Iranians always tried to live with love.

Cyrus the Great said in his Charter of human rights:

“ ... I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king... I did not allow anybody to terrorize [any place] of the [country of Sumer] and Akkad. I strove for peace in Babylon and in all his [other] sacred cities. As to the inhabitants of Babylon ... I abolished forced labour...”

So what happened to us...? Ferdowsi in shahnameh says it is the reason he composed shahnameh: “I wanted to know what did our predecessors that heritage us such a world full of war?”

So it is what I ask architects: Design architecture to remind people who were they and who are now and how should be?

In Persian literature, “culture” calls “farhang” which is “farr” + “hang”. “farr” means spectrum which comes from goodness inside a good person; a radiant splendor that burned about human by divine favor. “Hang” means every goodness which comes from accompany nature rules.

What should be a place which recall us our culture? Maybe we call this place a Millennium; a place where we can review once our culture; Review our goodness, integrity, kind-heartedness and remind it ourselves and find factors which link all people who live in country. It would be human factor which come from human nature. Millennium is where we reach together. It is not a historical museum. It is a context. It would create attitude; remind us a framework for living; Space of today with Genius loci of what we were.

Hence the competition would ask:” how this connection would be emerged in architecture?”

“The Millennium of Iran “ award announcement


The award challenges students of architecture to explore the theme of “The Millennium of Iran”. The award wants to encourage the students of architecture to explore the theme of Iranian culture and identification in its widest sense to create a deeper understanding of this specific.

It would be a two step competition, in first step you will think and write about the topic and answer of the award question and in step two you will design your proposed project. The evaluation of your design will be entailing your essay. For further details please look at SUBMISSION.

The millennium is a name which wonder you “future”; the future which would be better than today. Also the millennium is the place we review what we were and who we are now. The millennium doesn’t begin from 2000 A.D or 3000 A.D; millennium begins in every second of life and connects past to present and to future.

So in this competition you will confront to past as today as future. We are looking to find what we had in history and what we lost today which we should gain again.

If we search in our literature and history we can find a lot of stories about moral meanings. We used to live with these meanings but we have forgotten them today. Iranians through history talk about love, freedom and peace. They talk about generosity, but it seems they have lost those human meanings as the world people and civilizations do too. So this is a global problem which in first step we want to start from ourselves.

In our ancient culture, our fathers and mothers knew that if every part of body work properly, the whole body will be healthy and live; but if heart said I want to do brain, so body will die! The point is architects should be architects, they should be good architects! Our fathers and mothers knew if they want to do their role adequately they should be a good person; a person with “farhang”. But nowadays parents try to learn children how act violent to live. We forgot our human meanings.

Now the question is we, as architects, what can do to provide a context to emerge these meanings and help people to hear the sound of their inner? There would be a place which all of us have it in ourselves.

What do you think this place would be? How should it be and why?

As you see it is an open competition which its topic contain a vast area. This is because the award wants you think and challenge it and find your way. We believe there is lots of answer to this question. It would be an opportunity for all of us to think about this concept and its relation to our living.


The jury will evaluate the essay and project in accordance with the following criteria:


-Idea and concept


-Writing skills

Experimental thinking


-Idea and concept


-Is the project inferred of the idea?

-Is this the answer of the competition question?


1. This is necessary to participate as a team; individuals are not allowed .Teams will be at least 3 and there is no limitation for more members.

2. The entire architecture students who are not graduated can participate in this competition.

3. Each team should contain students from other fields of art and science. The number of them is up to your decision. They can be graduated. Just architecture student should not be graduated.


You have 4.5 month to develop your idea.

The essay and project will evaluate with each other and should deliver together.

The exact program will announce later!


The project must be submitted digitally. The project must be presented on two A1-sized boards and a 1500 words essay would be submitted on A4-sized as PDF file. Models are not allowed.


In order to share the competition with public, monthly exhibitions will be held in cities’ farhangsara (house of culture which are exist in every part of city), and people can write their opinion about each work and the exhibition in notes. These notes will be collect and study and the summery will be served the competitors.


Simoon Aivazian, Associate Professor of Tehran University, faculty of fine arts, architecture department,, who is skilled in architecture and other field of arts.

Mahmud Golabchi, Associate Professor of Tehran University, faculty of fine arts, architecture department, who is skilled in architecture and construction.

Mohamadreza Jodat, professor of Beheshti University, architecture and urban design department, who is skilled in architecture and theory basics of art and architecture.

Esa Hojat, Associate Professor of Tehran University, faculty of fine arts, architecture department, who is skilled in architecture and teaching and training architects.

We tried to constellate professors who are skilled in different part of art and architecture and be experienced on social science as architects.

Good Luck!

Millennium Award

Behind the scene (!):

Identification is the big problem of Iranian society today. What we call civilization have had a descending process which is lend to an unsecured atmosphere full of fear and tension; an unfaithful society. The children which grow up in this space are like their parents and learn they should be cruel to have ability of living. All of our parents remember while people were happy and life was full of bliss. Grandmas and grandpas tell stories about peace and calmness which they had and goodness and happiness which people had. They grow up with moral meanings in our history and literature. They grow up with heroes like Iraj who symbolizes real love, Siavash who symbolizes honesty, Bijan and Manijeh who symbolize love. They read Sa’adi and Hafez poems which teach them life style and more and more example of human sense. We are forgetting our resource of knowledge of life style and humanity. This knowledge is as old as history so it is wealthy. We could not connect our human knowledge with modern style of living. This happened because of technology and life changing and wars.

This is same all over the world. In Iran we have Ferdowsi and Hafez and Saadi and ‘Molavi (Rumi); far away Iran we have Homerus, Goethe, Emerson and others who talk about life.the question is what they want to tell us?

Now what can we do? Should we press ctrl+z and back to what we were? I think what we were depends to past. We should consider what we want to be. We need a step by step learning to find ourselves and find out what we want. Nobody wants to live in a planet full of war and insecurity. It is obvious we cannot change people suddenly. We need a gradient plan which leads us stealthy to what we should be!

A soft step by step revolution in individuals; a connection from time and culture to our being is what we need.

Now we can find the role of architecture and architects in this process. Architecture is the context of our life; A background; it provides us a space to our human activities. Architecture emerges our life style. So it can make some conditions to thinking or experiencing meanings which we have lost. Architects as people who create these spaces are important. Artist as they display meanings are important. Scientists as people who study on life are important.

Maybe in this competition thinking is more important than designing. Designing is the second goal which is hold for architects to practice a design process and remember their human role in society. This is on purpose that I choose a topic which can consist of different topics and answers. Because the way of thinking and pay attention to this topic will work it. It would be great to have some place to practice that but it would be next step as we consider in this competition:

First thinking and exploring, because it has lots of lessons for each person; second introducing an architectural answer which is practical experience to this problem.

As more as people who think and explore in this topic, it would be better. This is why a public exhibition in allover of city is necessary. The aim is achieved more and more by more people who take part in this competition. I don’t emphasize to architects. I point up the human role of every person in society which architects are one of them. I don’t believe architects alone can change anything; but if all of us do what we should do we can achieve our goal.

Culture of every region emerges in their arts and sciences. To get better result I considered teams whom members are come from different fields. It will help learn each other as far as practice teamwork and share and listen each other.

This is the topic which I myself am working on it and I am going to deliver it as my final project in university. It made me excited when I found I can share my idea in this competition. Because I think this is an important issue which everybody faces with it. Lots of seminars and conferences and workshops and essays and researches are working in identification and society problem in our country. The theme I think is a worldwide problem. We see insecurity and anomaly all the world. In every country these are experts who work on this topic as berkeley prize do.

I think this is a deep problem which needs lots of time and generation to work on it; because it took generations to destroy it! Of course we cannot be disappointed and say wow it takes much time so I will not do anything. We work on it, but give it time. It takes children training and need time to let them grow up and work it. It can be a sparkle in city or it can be a silent mutation which rescues the society. Considering the condition of Iran society a silent mutation will be more workable. Even though I think all over the world is same; some where better; some where worse.

All the while we can provide them conditions to learn and experience and live what we teach them. This is the point which architecture can help very much. We can help them to remember what they WERE and what they want to BECOME.


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