Farshid Moussavi bigraphy, stories - British architect

Farshid Moussavi : biography

1965 -

Farshid Moussavi is an architect, founder of Farshid Moussavi Architecture (FMA) and Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She was co-founder and co-principal of Foreign Office Architects (FOA) until June 2011.

Later career

Since 2004, Moussavi’s research has focused predominantly on how architecture involves the intellectual assembly of matter, providing each built form with inherent affects and sensations. Her work in aesthetics is influenced by a range of philosophers, notably Spinoza, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Following from Gilles Deleuze’s work on affect, she proposes that built forms’ affects play a critical role in the daily experiences of individuals and the cultures which develop from them. Like active forces, they affect patterns of thinking and behaving. Moussavi argues that, in order for culture to evolve, architects need to produce novel affects. It is not what built forms represent but how they function affectively that makes architecture a critical cultural practice.

Moussavi has published two books, "The Function of Ornament" and "The Function of Form" in conjunction with her teaching at Harvard, both of which investigate the role affect in contemporary architecture.

Early career

Moussavi was born in 1965 in Iran and immigrated to London in 1979. 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 Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. Moussavi first came to prominence with FOA, the practice she co-founded in 1995. Previously she had worked at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) before moving back to London to teach at the Architectural Association and start her own practice, Foreign Office Architects (FOA). 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.

Books and articles


  • (2006)
  • (2009)


  • "Creative leaps in the arena of architectural competitions" in , January 2013 issue, UK
  • "30 St Mary Axe" in 2012, number 35
  • "An Archaeological Approach" in (2012)
  • “School buildings produce culture” in , September 2012 issue, UK
  • “Agenda bender: the case for the abolition of female role models” in , May 2012 issue, UK
  • “Architecture and activism should be as closely linked as the problems we need to solve” in , December 2011 issue, UK
  • "Parametric software is no substitute for parametric thinking" in , September 2011 issue, UK

The Function of Form

In The Function of Form (2009), Moussavi further explores non-representational forms. Where the ornament research proposed the function of ornament beyond the symbolic, her form research proposes a new theory of form away from the limitations of representation (symbolism), towards repetition and differentiation in order to nurture multiplicity within culture.

Fundamental to Moussavi’s proposal is that, due to the speed at which technology, the environment and culture are changing, the rate of change in contemporary architecture has shifted from a process of overhaul and replacement to a mode of continuous and incremental change. This rapid rate of change is the consequence of multiple intersecting causes which are rooted in human (social, subjective, sensorial) as well as nonhuman (natural, objective, technical) spheres. In order to be compatible with these mutant and diverse values, architecture cannot be limited to the representation of a-priori concepts or singular causes and must evolve through constantly producing, enriching and reinventing its environment.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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