Babak Abnar architecture firm preserves an old villa with new spatial architecture

Located in the north of Iran by the Caspian Sea, in the town of Kelarabad, architecture firm Babak Abnar, in collaboration with interior designer Ali Ravanpak, has restored an old family villa, seeking cues from the owners’ worldwide travels and their desire to preserve childhood memories of their time in this house, situated within a gated family community surrounded by three other similar houses.

The demolition has been minimised and the original bones of the house have largely been preserved, re-articulated only with a new spatial design. The existing building was disconnected from the immediate and broader context. It was a builder’s concept of design, with not much architectural significance.

The building’s north-south and elongated orientation is disrupted by a loop-flow necessitating a mezzanine and a suspended walkway, which acts as a bridge between indoors and outdoors, from a centralised position, rather privately and a balcony with panoramic views of the Caspian Sea view has been added.

This space resembles the vernacular spatial typology of “kootam”, an outdoor shaded sleeping area during warm seasons. All of the existing spaces have been reimagined; a dominant extra-large kitchen replaces the usual large living room to be occupied for private social activities.

This space is extended rather unconventionally due to the client’s passion for cooking and also an existing narrative which indicates that guests spend most of their time at the kitchen counters rather than in the living room.


Some surfaces during the finishing process are deliberately left almost unfinished to hark back to its original construction. The domed ceiling of the TV area is added to express the client’s requisite familiarity, but it is modified to diffuse sound, contrary to a perfect dome’s acoustic properties.

The home spa has been combined with the main bedroom, and visually separated only by a transparent border. The space opens toward a small private garden, designed with tactile materials.

Photos: Mohammad Hassan Ettefagh and Hamed Farhangi

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