Farshid Moussavi

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Farshid Moussavi
Farshid Moussavi
Born1965 (age 57–58)
Shiraz, Iran
Alma materHarvard University
Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
Dundee University
PracticeFarshid Moussavi Architecture
Previously Foreign Office Architects
BuildingsŌsanbashi, International Passenger Terminal, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio
WebsiteOfficial website
Farshid Moussavi at the Tate Gallery
Detail of the façade of Edificio Bambú (literally "Bamboo Building" Carabanchel Social Housing in Madrid).
Installation exploring affect for Common Ground at 13th Venice Biennale

Farshid Moussavi OBE RA (born in 1965, Shiraz, Iran) is an Iranian-born British architect, educator, and author. She is the founder of Farshid Moussavi Architecture (FMA) and a Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.[1] Before forming FMA, she was co-founder of the London-based Foreign Office Architects or FOA (1993-2011), recognised as one of the world's most creative design firms, integrating architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture in a wide range of projects internationally.[2] Moussavi was elected a Royal Academician in 2015, and subsequently, Professor of Architecture at the RA Schools in 2017.[3] She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours for Services to Architecture.

Early life and education[edit]

Moussavi was born in 1965 in Shiraz, Iran and immigrated to London in 1979 to attend boarding school.[4][5] She trained in architecture at the Dundee School of Architecture, University of Dundee, the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London and graduated with a Masters in Architecture (MArch II) from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). While at the Harvard, Moussavi met architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo.[6]


Moussavi first came to prominence with Foreign Office Architects (FOA), the practice she co-founded in 1993 with her ex-husband Alejandro Zaera-Polo.[7] At FOA, Moussavi co-authored the design for the award-winning Yokohama International Ferry Terminal in Japan (which was subject to an international design competition in 1995) and was part of the United Architects team who were finalists in the Ground Zero competition. She also completed a wide range of international projects including the John Lewis complex in Leicester, England and the Meydan retail complex in Istanbul, Turkey.

In June 2011 after splitting with Zaera-Polo, Moussavi re-established her own London-based practice, Farshid Moussavi Architecture (FMA).[7] Her notable projects with FMA include the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Victoria Beckham's Flagship Store in London, a residential complex in the La Défense-Nanterre district of Paris, a multi-story residential building in Montpellier, and the Harrods Toys Department in London. The practice is currently working on a number of high-profile projects including The Ismaili Center Houston in the USA. It was a finalist for London National Portrait Gallery competition, and joint winner of the international competition for the new headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne.


Alongside her professional practice, Moussavi has held a longstanding commitment to research across the academic and professional field of architecture. Since 2005, she has been Professor in Practice at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.[3] Previously, Moussavi taught at the Architectural Association in London for eight years (1993–2000), and was subsequently appointed as Head of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (2002–2005). She has been a visiting professor of architecture at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, the Hoger Architectuur Instituut Sint-Lucas in Gent, and in the US, at UCLA, Columbia University and Princeton University.

Moussavi's research, which began while teaching at the Architectural Association in the early 90s, has focused on instruments that allow architects to embed built forms with design intelligence and creative possibilities – such as the diagram, information technology, new construction technologies, envelopes and tessellation – and how they can be used to develop alternative concepts for the practice of architecture.

Since 2004, Moussavi's research has focused predominantly on the relationship between the construction and experience of a built form, and how the architect's agency is to navigate the many choices provided by the design process to give built forms the unique propensities which individuals experience as affect. Her work in aesthetics is influenced by a range of philosophers, notably Spinoza, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and Jacques Rancière. Following from Gilles Deleuze's work on affect, she proposes that built forms' affects play an active role in the daily experiences of individuals and the affections they develop. Moussavi argues that, in order to move people's experience away from routine and to open up the possibility for new types of action, architects need to provide built forms with novel affects. It is not what built forms represent but how they provide experiences that would otherwise not exist that makes their aesthetic experience relevant and gives their architecture a function or agency in culture.

Moussavi has published three books: The Function of Ornament, The Function of Form and The Function of Style in conjunction with her teaching at Harvard, all of which disclaim architecture's traditional binary oppositions – form vs.function, structure vs. form, ornament vs. function, style vs. function – proposing that architecture's creative potential lies, rather, in finding ways to relate them to one other.

Select projects[edit]

Farshid Moussavi Architecture[edit]

  • 2019 – Present: Ismaili Cultural Center, Houston, USA
  • 2018 – Harrods Toys Department, London, England[8]
  • 2017 – Residential Complex, La Défense-Nanterre, Paris, France
  • 2017 – Les Jardins de la Lironde Residential Complex, Montpellier, France[9]
  • 2016 – Victoria Beckham Flagship Store, London, England
  • 2012 – Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio[10][11][12]
  • 2012 – Installation for Common Ground at 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice, Italy[13]

Foreign Office Architects[edit]

  • 2010 – Ravensbourne Design and Communication College, London, UK
  • 2007 – Carabanchel Social Housing, Madrid, Spain
  • 2000 – 2008 – John Lewis department store and Cineplex and pedestrian bridges, Leicester, England[14][15]
  • 2004 – South-East Costal Park and Auditoriums, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2002 – British Pavilion at the 8th Venice Architecture Biennale Next. Venice, Italy[13]
  • 2002 – Yokohama International Port Terminal, Yokohama, Japan


This is a select list of Moussavi and Foreign Office Architects (FOA) awards.

Year Award name To By For Notes
2004 Enric Miralles Prize for Architecture Foreign Office Architects Yokohama International Passenger Terminal [16]
2004 Lion Award for Topography Foreign Office Architects 9th Venice Architecture Biennale [17]
2011 RIBA Award in the education and community category Foreign Office Architects Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Ravensbourne campus [18]
2018 Order of the British Empire (OBE) award Farshid Moussavi Order of the British Empire Awarded for service and diversity in the architecture profession [19]
2021 UCL Honorary Fellowship Farshid Moussavi UCL (University College London) In recognition of distinguished career in Architecture and contribution to widening participation in architectural education and practice
2021 Prix des Femmes Architectes - Prix International 2021 Farshid Moussavi ARVHA (Association pour le Recherche et l'Habitat) in France Outstanding contribution to architecture internationally
2022 Jane Drew Prize Farshid Moussavi The Architects' Journal Awarded for showing innovation, diversity and inclusiveness in architecture



  • Moussavi, Farshid; Kubo, Michael (2006). The Function of Ornament. Harvard Graduate School of Design, ACTAR. ISBN 978-8496540507.
  • Moussavi, Farshid; Lopez, Daniel; Schricker, Ahmadreza; Ambrose, Garrick (2009). The Function of Form. Harvard Graduate School of Design, ACTAR. ISBN 978-8496954731.
  • Moussavi, Farshid (2014). The Function of Style. ACTAR. ISBN 978-1940291307.
  • Moussavi, Farshid (2022). Architecture & Micropolitics, Four Buildings, Farshid Moussavi Architecture 2010–2022. Park Books. ISBN 978-3-03860-194-4.



  1. ^ "Interview: Farshid Moussavi, Architect, Author and Professor". Something Curated. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Farshid Moussavi - Harvard Graduate School of Design". www.gsd.harvard.edu. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Farshid Moussavi, Artist". Royal Academy of Arts. 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  4. ^ Kenrick, Vivienne (28 September 2002). "Farshid Moussavi". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  5. ^ Adams, Henry (16 December 2012). "MOCA and the Dome of Heaven". Collective Arts Network - CAN Journal. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  6. ^ Chamberlain, Lisa (2008). Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction. Da Capo Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0786718849.
  7. ^ a b Moore, Rowan (16 November 2014). "Farshid Moussavi: 'We are in a world where ideas migrate'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Farshid Moussavi's new Harrods Toy Department is a joyful exercise in colour theory". Wallpaper* Magazine. 18 June 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  9. ^ Garcia Menocal, Cat (17 April 2013). "farshid moussavi architecture wins montpellier tower residence competition". designboom. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, designed by Farshid Moussavi". Wallpaper* Magazine. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  11. ^ Rawsthorn, Alice. "Build It and They Will Come". W Magazine. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  12. ^ Ryan, Raymund (23 October 2012). "Blue Steel: MOCA by Farshid Moussavi in Cleveland, Ohio". Architectural Review. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  13. ^ a b Rawsthorn, Alice (2 December 2012). "Defining the Emotional Cause of 'Affect'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  14. ^ "ShowCase: John Lewis Department Store and Cineplex". Archinect. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  15. ^ Woodman, Ellis (2 May 2008). "Foreign Office Architects: No, it's not a Guggenheim - it's a John Lewis". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  16. ^ "AD Classics: Yokohama International Passenger Terminal / Foreign Office Architects (FOA)". ArchDaily. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  17. ^ "11th Annual Arthur Rosenblatt Memorial Lecture: Farshid Moussavi: Thoughts on New Architecture". Archpaper.com. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Ravensbourne by Foreign Office Architects". Archinect. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Farshid Moussavi recognized with Order of the British Empire award amid Queen's Birthday Honours 2018". Harvard Graduate School of Design. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.

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