Ardakan : housing on the edge of the desert
This study concentrates on the city of Ardakan which lies in the edge of the Kavir-i Sciah Kuh Desert in central Iran. The city is relatively isolated which has meant that its ancient architecture has had the opportunity to develop in a continuous line of evolution for about a thousand years. This evolution has produced an architecture that represents as perfect a fit between climate culture and available sources as one can expect to find. It also represents the essence of the beautiful quality of the normal, standard nature of vernacular building. This study only covers housing in detail as again this represents the standard building type as opposed to special buildings such as mosque, hammam etc. The study examines in detail various standard features of the houses and then examines a variety of individual houses from poor farmer to rich merchant. This is complemented by consideration of the materials available and the resultant techniques of construction in particular the vault. This examination exposes the intense fit between all the reuqirements laid on the house and the resultant buildinga are a classic case of `form following function'. But it is function given its fullest richest meaning, this when coupled with a respect for the simple laws of symmetry and some restrained decoration has resulted in a memorable architecture produced with apparently great ease. Finally a question is posed - does this tradition still apply today? The answer given is - in many aspects - yes.