Afghan Refugee Housing

Rai Studio and Architecture for Humanity Tehran, in collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council, have recently completed an adobe construction prototype intended for Afghan refugees living in Kerman, close to the centre of Iran.

Built in an Afghan Refugee Camp in Kerman, Iran, the 100 meter square meter domed shelter is comprised of approximately 6,000 mud bricks.

Pouya Khazaeli, principal of Rai Studio and architecture professor at Azad University, Tehran and Ghazvin, notes: “Social sustainability in design is our main focus area here. It means to study how these refugees live, communicate, the meaning of privacy in their live, which materials they prefer and use for construction, which kind of construction techniques they use themselves, how much they spend normally to construct their own shelters….”

Read more at Domus

Yakhchal: Ancient Refrigerators

Yakhchal in Yazd Province

By 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.

Aboveground, the structure is comprised of a large mud brick dome, often rising as tall as 60 feet tall. Below are large underground spaces, up to 5000m³, with a deep storage space. The space often had access to a Qanat, or wind catchand often contained a system of windcatchers that could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels in summer days.

NimVar Yakhchal

Image Credit

Image Credit

Image Credit

The Yakhchal have thick mud brick walls that are up to two meters thick at the base, made out of a special mortar called s?rooj, composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in specific proportions, and which was resistant to heat transfer. This mixture was thought to be completely water impenetrable.

Meraji Yakhchal

The massive insulation and the continuous cooling waters that spiral down its side keep the ice stored there in winter frozen throughout the summer. These ice houses used in desert towns from antiquity have a trench at the bottom to catch what water does melt from the ice and allow it to refreeze during the cold desert nights. The ice is broken up and moved to caverns deep in the ground. As more water runs into the trench the process is repeated.

The twin ice-pits on Sirjan, Kerman Province, are surrounded by high walls and were constructed 108 years ago with mud-brick, the ice-pits are surrounded by high walls.

Adobe International Research Institute

The Historical airport of Maybod in Yazd Province has been suggested by the Maybod Research Center as the center for the Adobe International Research Institute. Considering that Iran is an earthquake-prone country, establishing an international research institute for studying earthen structures would provide a proper basis for reengineering and strengthening of these structures. “Taking into account that Iran has the highest number of earthen constructions in the world, this decision would provide international facilities for preserving these monuments. Earthen constructions are parts of Iranian traditional architectural style which has a history of over 8000 years. Establishing an international center in Iran would promote Iran’s technical abilities in regards to earthen structures. Keeping in mind that Iran is an earthquake-prone country, the establishment of this center would also provide an opportunity to reengineer and strengthen our clay structures according to the international standards,” said Mohammad Hassan Khademzadeh, head of Mega Projects.

Earthen architecture in Iran and Central Asia Conference

Earthen architecture in Iran and Central Asia: its conservation, management, and relevance to contemporary society, a celebration of the life and work of Robert Byron, will be held at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 12-13th November 2005. The aim of the conference is to bring together individuals involved in the conservation and management of the archaeological and architectural legacy of earthen architecture in Iran and Central Asia, to discuss current approaches, practical applications, new projects and the impact of work on local communities and contemporary society.

Bam: One Year Later


Some 26,000 lives were lost in the earthquake of 26 December last year, which levelled most recent housing, leaving about 80,000 people homeless, and damaged the ancient Bam Citadel. More:

UN, Iran mark first anniversary of earthquake that devastated Bam cultural area

Bam Before and After from Columbia University [username: ahar and password: 826sch to access site]

In Pictures: Bam Before and After [from BBC]

Quickbird Satellite Images before and after the earthequake

Building A 25 Dome Warehouse


The photo above shows one of 25 domes used to construct a warehouse in Saveh, Iran (Markazi province, 130km south-west of Tehran) which has a climate with cold winters with occasional sub-freezing
temperatures and snow because of the altitude (1200 meters). The average rainfall is 40 millimeters/year. The materials used are cooked bricks, cement, clay, plaster, white cement as finish for inside walls, lime mixed with earth in the foundations, clay/straw for wall and roof insulation which enclose 620 square meters of space. The cost of construction (1999) was 50,000 US$ and took a total of 3 months to build. On average, every 2 days 3 domes were completed. The warehouse was constructed by Jacqueline Mirsadeghi. See more construction photos: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Robot May Build with Mud

In a laboratory in Los Angeles early this year, a robot armed with a concrete pump built its first wall. Just a small wall, about a yard wide, a foot high and an inch thick, but beautifully formed in a graceful oval sweep. Iranian born engineer Behrokh Khoshnevis has tested his prototype with cement but believes adobe, a mix of mud and straw that is dried by the Sun, could be suitable. The chief advantages of the Contour Crafting process over existing technologies are the superior surface finish that is realized and the greatly enhanced speed of fabrication. The success of the technology stems from the automated use of age-old tools normally wielded by hand, combined with conventional robotics and an innovative approach to building three-dimensional objects that allows rapid fabrication times. Professor Khoshnevis believes that his technology will make it possible to build a house from foundation to roof in less than 24 hours: “Our goal,” he says, “is to be able to completely construct a one-storey 185-square-metre home on site in one day, without using human hands.”

Bam Photo Exhibition

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s Publicity Department expresses its sympathy towards its compatriots, and especially the survivors of Bam’s disastrous earthquake by holding an international exhibition and competition of photography centered on Bam’s tragic event, under the title “The Wrecked Roof of Bam”, using the expression influential and comprehensive medium of photography. Photographers all over the world who have succeeded in catching glimpses of various scenes of this nation-wide calamity are here by invited to contribute to this exhibition by sending their photographic works. The Dead line of this exhibition is February 5, 2004. The entry rules and application is attached to this mail. For more information contact We are looking forward to receive your works!

Ali Reza Karimi Saremi,
Directing Manger of Exhibition
tel +9821868117