Architecture in iran, Residential architecture, Zav Architects

Zav Architects repurpose an existing villa to highlight the interplay of light and volume

Located in the mountainous landscape of Alborz, in the village of Poorkan, a 45-min drive from Tehran, an abandoned house has been converted into a family holiday home. Zav Architects was commissioned to repurpose the existing structure spread over 150m2, including a fruit tree garden.


The architecture firm developed three strategies to preserve and redesign the building: to rehabilitate the villa with local technology and workforce, keeping the existing structure, to integrate the open and closed spaces for better circulation of light and air, and to apply the Iranian geometric principles to the vernacular structure and make it more contemporary.


Therefore the project was defined with three main strategies: to rehabilitate the villa with local technology and workforce, keeping the existing structure, to integrate the open and closed spaces to their fullest having the flow of air from the garden to the most intimate space of the villa, and to reach an Iranian space with light, shadow and color under the clarity of pure geometry adapted to the structure.


The principle of Sedari (three doors in Persian) has been used to showcase the delicate interplay of light, shadow and colour. It also unifies the interior with the garden, providing a better cross-ventilation between the interior and exterior area. But it also functions in providing a more contemporary spatial quality due to its large scale. Most of the construction materials used in this project have been sourced from Iran and easily available. The architecture firm also got artisans from Iran and Afghanistan onboard to induce a touch of craftsmanship.


The building volume consists of three interrelated spaces on two levels. The entrance on the northern side of the villa leads towards an open space which displays the light and shadows coming from the Sedari. The ground floor is elevated through a staircase, which has two wide steps functioning as lounging areas. The over scaled doors of the south facade (the Sedari) is rotatable from the centre.


The steel frames of the windows, built by Tehran-based specialist, Shirzad, have an extra layer of CNC steel sheets, for them to be thicker and stronger. This process was actualized by Mr. Shirzad in Tehran. The large colourful glasses have been double glazed with colourful plexi sheets.
“Considering the limited budget of our client for this project, we benefited from reusing the existing space as a base and revitalising it, aided by the use of local construction material and technology,” says project architect Mohamadreza Ghodousi. “We have attempted to emphasise the potential value of leftover spaces, waiting to be revitalised.”

Photos: Soroush Majidi and Parham Taghiof

Read DesignMENA’s report on preservation architecture by Babak Abnar practice in Iran’s Kelarabad town

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