Delnaz Patrawala

Architectural Graduate Non-practicing

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Hi! I am a post-graduate student at the University of Auckland completing my thesis in February 2021. I am actively seeking graduate opportunities within New Zealand. I stand for pushing creative boundaries within architecture. History, people, land and culture are at the center of my personal practice, as I believe architecture has implications beyond the built environment.

Project Title
Thesis Project - Imagined Histories: Conceptions of my Zoroastrian Homeland from a Diasporic Perspective
I migrated to Aotearoa as a child with my parents, from Mumbai, India. My great grandfather too had journeyed with his family from Gujarat to Mumbai. Generations before him, my Zoroastrian ancestors had left Ancient Iran for the shores of Gujarat, to avoid religious persecution. They left behind their palaces, gardens, temples and texts which were fated for destruction, taking with them only the symbolic fire they worshipped, so that they may one day re-establish it in their new homeland. During my architectural studies, I have become more aware of these past cultural lives running in my veins. In this thesis, I wanted to explore the lost history of the Zoroastrian people who were forced to flee their homeland of Ancient Iran. It is focused on a country that has seen many waves of religious and cultural oppression, resulting in mass emigration and acculturation. The thesis amplifies the importance of culture in shaping and articulating a migrant's identity and sense of belonging. It challenges the notion that culture is bound by its country of origin. Instead, this thesis argues for a condition where culture can be carried forward, within the vessels it once thrived in - the enclosed gardens, the underground water galleries, the fire temples. The prime motivation for this thesis is to identify architecture's role in igniting a sense of cultural belonging. Rooted in Aotearoa New Zealand, the project imagines a re-construction of Iranian conceptions in the Botanic Gardens of Manurewa. I wanted to shine a light on Iran's rich history and what is at stake culturally for its people who have voluntarily or involuntarily migrated. Architecture here, functions as an instrument for re-kindling and experiencing the culture of the lost homeland. It assembles fragments of these histories into engaging spatial and sensory expressions. The act of journeying is inherent to the shaping of the proposal, taking precedent from the dynamic history of Zoroastrian exile and migration. It presents an imagining of how architecture can help the Zoroastrians living in this new country reconnect with their culture in a manifest way.
Year of Completion
Thesis Project