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2004 Honourable Mention

Zargar-e-Yadzi House

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Project TitleRenovation and Restoration of Zargar-e-Yazdi House

Date of Completion: October 2003

Location: City of Yazd, Daroshafa District, Iran

Size: 67,236 square meters

Cost: US$7,028

Client: The Urban & Revitalization Organization

Heritage Architect: Ali Amiri Ardakani

Contractor: Maskan Sazan Corporation


Project Synopsis

The Zargar-e-Yazdi House is located next to Fort Mosque in the historical city of Yazd in central Iran.   The city’s history goes back to about 3,000 BC.  As such it holds many buildings of historical and architectural significance. 

The Zargar-e-Yazdi House was originally built as a typical traditional residence with two courtyards for one of the princes of the area.  While the original building was built at the end of the Safavid Era (1502-1736), changes were made to it during the Qajar (1794-1925) and Pahlavi (1925-1979) Dynasties.  Thus, construction of the House was done in stages, the oldest sections being more than 250 years old.

Zargar-e-Yazdi is significant as a fine and rare example of Safavid-era architecture, reflecting the customs and cultures of that period and featuring stained-glass windows and other artistic elements. The building illustrates the earlier approach to architecture - that of conforming to the environment.

Before restoration, the house had been abandoned for a long time and had fallen into ruin.  The walls were intact but much of the roof had collapsed.  The gardens and lawns had been left untended for many years.  The project managers restored the house with a view to demonstrating the value of past architectural styles, highlighting the building's simplicity and purity of design.

Highlights of Conservation Approach

The artistic value of this structure is related to its simplicity, purity and its subtle geometrical pattern.  The simple form indicates how people conformed to their environment in the past, and draws immediate attention to its simple, fundamental design. As preservation of the artistic and architectural value of the building was paramount, this simplicity was carefully preserved throughout the restoration process. 

Detailed research and study of the building was carried out prior to the restoration work.  The project then used the findings from the research to rebuild as much of the original design as possible.  For example, it was possible to estimate the previous existence of certain design elements, for example the chimney, by using clues in the existing structure.  Also, by noting the different materials used in this building, the project was able to detect the different construction periods.  For example, earlier walls were constructed in mud and clay while later wall construction was done in bricks.

The project restored much of the building to its original design and features of the Safavid Era.  There are few examples of architecture from this period of Iranian history, and therefore the restoration of this part of the house’s identity was considered valuable.  In addition, the changes that were made in the Qajar Dynasty were preserved to show the transformation of the house at certain historical periods during its life-time. 

Some removal of incongruous materials was required, and this was undertaken first.  The ceiling and roof were then rebuilt with local materials.  Doors were restored to their original location.  Changes to the original structure were limited as much as possible, and included necessary modern facilities such as air-conditioning, electricity and a sewage system.  The restoration work also included ensuring the long term survival of the building, and doors and walls were treated for protection against termites. 

Conservation and the Community

The house has been adapted for use as a hotel for tourist accommodation, which will allow the cultural values of the house to be appreciated by both local residents and visitors.  In addition, the house has become popular with the local community as a location to meet socially.

The restoration of the house has also provided an opportunity to have the artistic and architectural values inherited from the Safavid period explained to both locals and tourists.  It is planned that the open areas in the lower floors will be used for fairs, and that the house will function as one of the cultural focal points of the town.