Silk Tree Park is the first public domain space in Tehran designed in accordance with spatial guidelines for deaf and HOH individuals. It is part of an initiative during Dr. Hanachi’s tenure as the mayor of Tehran to create more public spaces that are inclusive of all physical and neurological abilities.
The design is premised around how responding to special needs can enrich design, and how the design of natural and built environments can foster playful interaction and empathy between people of all walks of life.
The design impetus for the Silk Tree Park began before the project existed, with an investigative studio at Tehran’s Urban Innovation Center. The research led by the design firm R&D group at TUIC focused on providing safe and comfortable urban environments for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, ultimately resulting in a handbook titled 101 Tips To Design for a Deaf Friendly City. Months later, when the design firm was commissioned for the design of a small urban park adjacent to Tehran’s Sports Federation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the practice identified an opportunity to bring awareness to Tehran’s Deaf community and offer inclusive public amenities in the neighborhood.
Design development followed a systematic process incorporating existing natural elements including trees and urban infrastructure. The design took shape creating cyclical geometries around each of these elements and following design guidelines for the Deaf and HOH. To optimize green space and reduce the impact of an enclosed urban space, green strips were defined to grow vertically on the walls and emphasize a green park.
Core design strategies included circular seating spaces ranging in radius from 2.80 meters to 5.50 meters; an ideal distance to facilitate deaf visual dialogue. The circular seating also encourages friendly interaction and engagement between strangers as the arrangement acts as a gathering space for all users. To further bolster safety and comfort, the circular seating has entrances facing walkways. Aside from these entrances, each seating space is surrounded on all sides by vegetation and greenery to prevent sudden or accidental approach from an angle that is not visible to HOH individuals.