Category Archives: Architecture

Orsi Khaneh – A’Design Award winner: Modern stained glass meets Iranian tradition (Photos)

Orsi Khaneh Residential Apartment in Tehran, has won a bronze A’Design award in the category of Architecture, Building and Structure Design, 2015-2016.

Brothers Nima and Sina Keivani based the design of the seven-storey block on elements commonly found in traditional Iranian architecture. The architects particularly wanted to reinterpret the orsi window, a type of sash window with latticed woodwork and coloured glass typically used to help reduce sunlight and heat, and repel insects in the hot climate. This inspired the project name Orsi Khaneh.

The street-facing facade is made from a double layer of heat-treated timber, inset with panes of stained glass and planting that not only serve as a decorative element but also help to control temperature. Matching slatted sunshades can be raised over the windows to provide further control of sunlight.

The appearance is in part inspired by a pair of historic residences with intricately moulded and patterned facades – Borujerdi’s House and Tabatabaei’s House, located in the Iranian city of Kashan.

At the back of the building, recessed balconies overlooking a small ramped courtyard are framed in the same pale stonework. The courtyard provides access to underground parking and is decorated with mosaics that form grassy patterns. Wooden flower boxes are mounted on the walls surrounding it as well as sections of the facade, hinting at the vegetated roof terrace, which features manicured flower beds, an outdoor fireplace and a gazebo.

The building was designed in June 2013 and the construction works finished in September 2015 in Tehran.

Project credits:
Architect in charge and supervisor: Nima Keivani / Architect in charge: Sina Keivani
Client: Amir Abbas Taheri / Contractor: Mohammad Mashuf
Design associates: Ladan Mostofi, Akbar Khalaj
Architectural theory consultant: Alireza Kharazmi Nezhad
Ideogram: Maryam Sarshar / Mechanical consultant: Mehdi Bazargahi

Sources: dezeen.com, The Building Centre, iranian-architect.irA’ Design Award (interview), Wikipedia | Orsi window (in Persian), worldarchitecture.org, inhabitat.com

Tehran’s Niavaran Residential Complex – Keeping trees close to people (Photos)

Designed by Iranian architect Mohammad Reza Nikbakht, Niavaran Residential Complex is located in Tehrans, Shemiran area. Shemiran, being spread along Alborz Mountains slope, used to be a summer resort of Tehran until 40 years ago due to its numerous gardens. Unfortunately, many gardens with old trees in the area have been destroyed by urbanization projects over the last century.

The parcel of land allocated to this project accommodates a number of these old trees too, whose conservation has been considered as the first priority in designing this complex. Mohammed Reza Nikbahkt took a different approach by building around existing trees in order to preserve them.

The 6 story building in Niavaran, northern Tehran, has been designed in 5 levels, each accommodating 6 residential appartments, and 3 lower floors for common facilities. The ground floor includes the entrance lobby, building managers office, ceremonies and gatherings hall. The first basement is mainly for a parking lot and store rooms, while the second basement, in addition to a parking lot, includes central heating room, swimming pool, Spa and the gym.

Niavaran Residential Complex by Mohammad Reza Nikbakht won the World Architecture Award (WA Award – Cycle 12).

Sources: Contemporary Architecture of Iran (more photos), greenprophet.com, worldarchitecture.org

Photo series: Winter in Iran – Savadkuh County, Mazandaran

The Veresk Bridge and the Three Golden Lines, a railway spiral passing three times by the same area at different heights are located in Savadkuh County, Mazandaran Province. They are part of the Trans-Iranian Railway, a major railway building project that started in 1927 and completed in 1938. It links the capital Tehran with the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea.

The Danish firm Kampsax began constructing Veresk Bridge in 1934. The structure stands at 110m height and has a 66m long arch. It connects two mountains in the Abbas Abad region.

The construction of this bridge included craftsmen of many nationalities. The name of the bridge is derived from the name of a Czechoslovakian technician whose name was hard to pronounce for Iranians. Near the bridge is a memorial for the workers who lost their life while building the bridge and its nearby tunnels. The Chief Engineer, Austrian Walter Aigner, following his wishes, is buried in the local cemetery of Veresk.

During World War II, it was known as the Pol-e-Piroozi, or the bridge of victory. During the course of the war, Reza Shah was asked by Hitler to blow up all tunnels and bridges, including the Veresk Bridge, on Iran’s railway lines in order to delay the transfer of goods and reinforcement troops to the north for the Russians. He furthermore promised to replace and reconstruct all of such demolished structures following the Germans’ victory in the war. Reza Shah rejected the request. Today trains connecting Tehran to Gorgan or Sari pass over this bridge an average of four times a day.

Sources: Wikipedia | Veresk Bridge, Borna News, highestbridges.com, fouman.com, Wikipedia | Trans-Iranian-Railway

Windcatchers: Ancient and environment friendly Iranian cooling system (Photos)

A  windcatcher or bâdgir (in Persian: bâd “wind” and gir “catcher”) is a traditional Persian architectural element to create natural ventilation in buildings. They have remained present in many countries and can be found in traditional Persian-influenced architecture throughout the Middle East, including in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf (mostly Bahrain and Dubai), Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Most windcatchers belong to old residential houses, mosques and urban reservoirs, e.g. in Persian architecture they were used as a refrigerating device at traditional water reservoirs (ab anbars) to store water near freezing temperatures in summer. Regardless of its utility, the height and adornments of these windcatchers used to represent the owner’s distinction and social standing.

Recently the windcatcher approach has been adopted in Western architecture, such as in the visitor center at Zion National Park, Utah and at Kensington Oval cricket ground in Barbados.

Below windcatchers in the cities of Yazd and Kashan (Yazd and Isfahan Provinces) by Hamid Najafi for Tasnim News and by Hoda Asghari for Mehr News.

Windcatchers come in various designs: uni-directional, bi-directional, and multi-directional and work pretty much like modern air conditioning system. At the top of the windcatcher are several directional ports – usually four open towards four direction. When the port facing the prevailing wind is opened, air is pushed down the shaft and into the building. At the base of the tower is a pool of water provided by aqueducts called karez (or qanat), over which the air is allowed to pass. As the warm air passes over the surface of the water, the air cools through evaporative cooling. At night, cold air is sucked into the house thereby cooling it naturally.

Windcatchers can also act in reverse. By closing all ports but the one facing away from the incoming wind, air is drawn upwards using a combination of Bernoulli’s Principle and Coanda effect. The negative pressure pulls hot air down into the karez tunnel and is cooled by coming into contact with the cool earth and cold water running through it. At this point, the cooled air is introduced into the building. By facing windcatchers away from the wind, dust and sand blowing in from the desert can also be kept away from buildings.

The evaporative cooling effect is strongest in the driest climates, such as on the Iranian plateau, leading to the ubiquitous use of windcatchers in drier areas such as Yazd, Kerman, Kashan, Sirjan, Nain, and Bam.

Shish-khans (small windcatchers) can still be seen on top of water reservoirs in Qazvin and other northern cities in Iran. These seem to function more as ventilators than as the temperature regulators seen in the central deserts of Iran.

Sources: Tasnim News (Yazd), Mehr News (Kashan), Wikipedia, Historical Iran, Amusing Planet

Iran’s South Khorasan Province: Kolah Farangi, Birjand

The Kolah Farangi Citadel is located in Birjand in South Khorasan Province. It was built during the late Zand and early Qajar era between the years 1848 and 1895. The structure is a unique landmark of Birjand and was constructed by Amir Hassan Khan Sheybani. It consists of the garden, the stable, the bathhouse, the offices, and the reception hall.


The building has a hexagonal base, a white conical top and is six stories high. The main entrance is preceded by a roofed area containing some eye-catching arcs. The interior of the ground floor has a number of different rooms which are connected by hallways. In its center there is a room containing a pool which can be accessed from many different entrances. It is situated approximately a meter lower than the rest of the floor and is octagonal in shape. The pool helps keep optimum ventilation throughout the building.

The Kolah Farangi Citadel is registered as national cultural heritage site number 1880. Today it is used as Southern Khorasan’s governorship offices and storage space.

Sources: Dream of Iran, Historical Iran

Iran’s Isfahan Province: Kashan – Fin Garden Series (2nd photo gallery)

Fin Garden, located in Kashan, Iran, is a historical Persian garden completed in 1590. It is the oldest existing garden in Iran. Unesco declared the garden a World Heritage Site in 2012.

Related post about Bagh-e Fin (Fin Garden) with more information and photos:
The other Iran | Kashan – Fin Garden Series

Sources: Wikipedia | Fin Garden, Mehr News Agency | Photos

Iran’s Kerman Province: Fath-Abad Garden (Photos)

Fath-Abad Garden is located next to the village of Ekhteyarabad, 25km from the city of Kerman. It dates back to the Qajar era. The garden has been recently renovated after having its last restoration in 1972.

Shazdeh Garden, a historical  Persian Garden near Mahan, also in Kerman Province, has been modeled on Fathabad Garden.

Related articles: The other Iran | Shazdeh Garden

Sources: IRNA | Photos, Wikipedia | Fath-Abad Garden (in Persian), Tasnim | Photos , ISNA | Photos