A residential complex in Tehran was inspired by a window design in traditional Iranian architecture

Orsi Khaneh, designed by Keivani Architects, is a new residential complex on Tehran’s Nasr Street that was designed with traditional Iranian architecture forms and materials in mind.

Inspired by the ‘Orsi’ window, typically consisting of wooden lattice and stained glass that’s rectangular in shape and opens upward, Orsi Khaneh aims to merge genius loci with contemporary design.

“We tried to make a modern Orsi window,” said Nima Keivani, co-founder of Keivani Architects, “with the aim of creating a space with the Iranian spirit, which respects both mental and biological needs of the users. So elements like water, plants and light have been highlighted.”

According to Keivani, the Orsi window has effective technical functions in climate control and natural lighting. He explained that the surrounding frames of the balconies control and improve sun radiation as it enters the building. Framing the balconies and inducing a different landscape experience for each one allows for what Keivani calls the fourth dimension in architecture.

“There are intangible sunshades on the façade that easily open upwards and control the natural light,” he added. “Moreover, it’s sort of a transformation that implies the diversity of the dynamic façade.”

The building’s façade consists of a double layer cover of thermowood and stained glass, which, in addition to its aesthetic aspect obtained through lighting, helps further control the temperature. The sunshades that open upwards do so through hydraulic jacks, while the balconies are arranged in dynamic composition.

Keivani noted that the project came with a set of economic limitations and challenges prompted by authorities and the local municipality, but the team tried to use these factors as motivation to design a building using recyclable and native materials.

“One of the challenges of the research was extracting the principles of Persian architecture and genius loci in residential spaces, and transform it to a practical and modern language,” he said.

Orsi Khaneh’s design was also inspired by landmark buildings in Iran, including the Tabātabāei House in Kashan, built in the 1880s for an affluent family. The inspiration can be gleaned from Orsi Khaneh’s balconies, which are framed and emphasised through unique volumes and forms. Also, throughout the building, links between indoor and outdoor spaces are prevalent, like the roof garden.

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