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Title: House typology in Iran (with special reference to Shiraz)
Author: Memarian, Gholamhossein
ISNI:       0000 0004 2680 0030
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1998
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Iran is a country rich in vernacular architecture. Despite the losses due to frequent earthquakes and, in this century, to large-scale planning projects, historic towns such as Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kerman, Bushire, Naiin, still contain thousands of houses. Until recently, however, there has been little attempt to record these buildings, even less to analyse or explain their form. Where studies have been undertaken, they have tended to concentrate on climatic influences on design: the courtyard-house is seen, here and elsewhere, as fundamentally a response to harsh climatic conditions. Yet there is great variation in house- form in Iran, and even the courtyard- house may vary widely between and within regions. The theoretical starting point of this study is that no single factor is sufficient to explain the form taken by the traditional house in Iran. Climatic, technological, social and ideological influences must all be considered. Moreover, it is argued that the relative `weight' of these factors may differ from place to place. To be reliable, a typology must, therefore, be founded on detailed, empirical studies of surviving buildings in specific areas. The study focuses on Shiraz, an important city in south-western Iran, whose traditional architecture remains largely undocumented. Drawing on a recorded sample of 45 houses, a detailed typology is developed, which addresses not only the spatial layout of the house but also its facade treatment, its structure and materials. Documentary evidence, continuity and development over time are inferred by reference to a small number of early examples. All the houses in the sample are built around one or more courtyards, but there is considerable variation, spatially and physically, from one house to another. Spatial types can be distinguished on the basis of the orientation of the courtyards, the definition of spatial axes and the composition of rooms. Attention is given, in particular, to the patterns of entry, and access to and from the courtyards. For certain rooms and spaces (for example talar, ivan and central room) aspect is the prime consideration to ensure either protection from or exposure to the sun. In other cases, proximity, separation and visual protection are critical for reasons of privacy and hospitality. The various spatial characteristics are clarified by use of graph representation, dimensionless plans and axial diagrams. To highlight the characteristics of Shiraz houses, comparison is made with a sample of 40 houses from Yazd, a historic city to the Central Iran, on the edge of the desert. Superficially similar, the Yazdi house is also built around one or more courtyards. However, analysis reveals that in Yazd the orientation of the rooms is much more consistent and rigorous, and the use of basements, semi-open space (talar) and wind-catcher (badghir), more widespread. As in Shiraz, spatial divisions and room sequence articulate the needs of both privacy and hospitality. However, climate is seen to be a far more powerful determinant of house form in this case, resulting in typology that is much more uniform and repetitive. In conclusion the study offers both an analysis an interpretation of traditional housing in Shiraz. The typology points to the most common combinations of spatial and physical features in Shiraz houses but, by extension, other theoretically possible combinations can be suggested, which, with further field work, may be found to have occurred in practice. Methodologically, emphasis has been placed 'key historic buildings as references, and on the need to consider `type' in an holistic sense, embracing material, structure, and facade characteristics. This holistic approach, if applied to other regions, should produce a much richer typology of Iranian housing than exists at present, and one that will illuminate the social and cultural, as well as the climatic determinants, of traditional design.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available