Restoration of the Constitutional Revolution Memorial (Majless)
Tavoos Art Quarterly, No. 1, Autumn 1999
After the terrible fire of December 1994, which destroyed one third of the building of the old National Consultative Assembly, particularly its main hall, and also because of the building’s decrepitude, the restoration of this historic monument which has played an important role in the political history of contemporary Iran was taken into consideration and the largest restoration task ever attempted in Iran was begun by local specialists and artists.
A host of diverse qualitativedispositions, wide-ranging studies, the creation of a powerful local technical bureau, the creation of a council charged with examining the project, devising the restoration principles and determining the structural, equipment and architectural functions and devices constituted the different dimensions of the task.
History of the Building
Originally, the Baharestan building was the private palace of Mirza-Hossein-Khan Sepahsalar (1231-1298 AH), Nasser-ed-Din Shah’s prime minister, and its construction was completed in 1877 (1296 AH).
Shortly after the issuance of the Constitutional Edict (1906), this building was designated to house the sessions of the parliament and thus became a historic monument and a national document. The most important events which took place here were Mohammad-‘Ali Shah’s assault on the parliament in view of paving the way for autocracy, the epic resistance of parliamentarians such as Seyyed Hassan Modarress and Mohammad-Taqi Bahar against the autocratic rule of Reza Shah, and the struggle towards the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry under the leadership of Dr. Mohammad Mossaddeq.
The main physical developments effected in this building during its 130 year-long history were:
· The construction of the building (1874-1877);
· The cannonade of the house of parliament (1908);
· The construction of the new brick annex west of the main building (1924);
· The great fire of December 11th 1921;
· The alteration of the facade of the house of parliament (1923-6);
· The modifications of 1966;
· The fire of December 1994.
These studies constituted the first phase of the restoration task.
In these studies, three important sources of damage (humidity, cracking and termites), their effects on the building and the required remedies against each were determined. This was followed by studies concerning the damages sustained by the columns, the vaults, the walls, the revetments and the roof.