Traditional Homes Get a New Lease on Life in Iran

Thomas Erdbrink spotlights the efforts of the dedicated individuals that are trying to reverse decades of neglect and destruction of the traditional courtyard homes that are a 'cornerstone of Iranian architecture.'

1 minute read

January 10, 2013, 2:00 PM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


"For thousands of years, houses with secluded gardens and courtyards have been a cornerstone of Iranian architecture, which strongly influenced structures like the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal. Similar dwellings are described in literature from Achaemenid times, around 700 B.C., and their old Persian name is the root for the word 'paradise'," notes Erdbrink.

"But in past decades the houses fell out of favor and were widely demolished to make way for glassed apartment blocks, especially in Tehran. The sprawling family gardens on the flanks of the Alborz Mountains in the capital have long since been demolished to make way for high rises, turning landowners into millionaires but wiping out Iran’s architectural heritage."

"But [interior designer Shanaz] Nader and some others are beginning to reverse that trend. In recent years, dozens of houses and palaces in Kashan, a city known for its carpets and traditional Iranian architecture, have been painstakingly renovated into holiday homes and hotels."

“For a long time it seemed as though our love for culture had diminished in our country,” said Mohsen Shahi, a 26-year-old architect. “Those old families that once built these beautiful houses were not thinking of profits, but of their legacies. Thankfully, now we are starting to learn from them.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 in The New York Times

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