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Take In the Head-Turning Contemporary Homes of Tehran

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Founded in 2010, Tehran-based architecture firm Next Office was brought in to redesign a partially built home just outside the Iranian capital of Tehran, mainly to remove an "octagonal void" in the center that, as directing manager Alireza Taghaboni explains in a project statement, was preventing the client from achieving the "wide, bright interior he desired." Rather than have the steel columns that delineated the space torn down, Next covered them with a curved concrete facade wall that extends outside, breaking up the glassy expanse of the south-facing section of the home. Up ahead, take a look at how the firm made the interior work around it, and tour four more recently finished homes in and around Tehran that are doing interesting things with Persian vernacular forms.

Photos via Dezeen

↑ "We realized the only way to revive the project was to take this problem as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle," Taghaboni continues, referring to the little-defined open interior that was originally part of the home. By treating a sculptural concrete flourish in an "elastic manner," Next used it to give Kouhsar Villa a "smooth connection between inside and outside." "Smooth" here is meant in a literal, material sense, but the facade also provides for a small pocket of a balcony that extends right off the master bedroom.

↑ Next Office also designed this 1,400-square-foot home in the north-Tehran neighborhood of Darrous, which has turning boxes on the front of three floors that rotate (employing the same mechanism used to rotate, say, a BMW on a showroom floor) to become open-air terraces. According to the firm, this open and closed capability references traditional Iranian houses, which would "dynamically serve as seasonal modes of habitation" by including both a winter living room and a summer living room. In the warmer months, the Sharifi-ha House can provide for plenty of airflow and sunlight, and if its owners so desire, the home can close down during Tehran's cold, snowy winters.

Inside, the home's aboveground communal areas are all connected by an interior void that opens them up to a large skylight. The two basement floors, which are "allocated to family conviviality, fitness facilities, and wellness areas," include a pretty sweet-looking pool at the very bottom, which is naturally lit due to a skylight situated in the front yard.

Photos via Arch Daily

↑ Northeast Tehran's Danial apartments were designed for a neighborhood where, as architects Reza Sayadian and Sara Kalantary tell it, the city's expansion led to the replacement of garden-equipped summer houses with complexes that were light on the green. In the interest of "reminding people of lost nature," they designed the apartment complex with 20 "tree-like panels" on the front. On the interior, this kooky street presence channels the movement of the sun into an ongoing procession of "new lighting and shadow dancing."

↑ Located in an what Tehran's Arsh Design Group describes as an "enclave of old, near-ruined, provincial-style homes in northern Tehran," a projected completed in 2010 called 2 Offices, 2 Brothers was built for (you guessed it) two brothers, a geologist and an civil engineer, who wanted connected live-work spaces. Both were adamant that they be completely open-plan, but where the geologist wanted a "a unified, linear studio space, where over-sized blueprints of mine sites and their topographical features could be laid out on long working desks," the engineer wanted a "single, undivided spatial pocket—a control room, as he called it—with large working desks populated by printouts of charts and tables documenting the up-to-date dynamics of the various construction sites that he would manage simultaneously."

Due to a misapplication of zoning bylaws, the approved building envelope would take up the northern half of the lot, instead of the eastern half, but Arsh and its clients chose to roll with this "happy mistake" (or rather, ensure that it was "provoked, cherished and embraced"). The linear, corridor-like space this allowed for fit the brothers' needs quite nicely, and the resulting concrete-framed, glass-covered office affords them the rather surreal-sounding experience of standing "at the end of the interior enterprise, looking through the infinite green opening of tens of back-to-back yards vanishing into the far-away horizon, meeting the ambiguity of the mountain whose profile was blurred by distance."

↑ Completed in 2011, architect Alireza Mashhadmirza's Brick Pattern House was shortlisted for the housing category of the 2012 World Architecture Festival, and was, as he describes, an exercise in working with a very constrained budget ($18 per square foot) and "designing complicated details in a very simple way."

Having given himself the intimidating task of creating a building with an "earthquake resistant structure, energy saving walls, acceptable acoustic properties, fire safety and functional technical service" while working with builders that had little experience meeting industry standards, Mashhadmirza opted for a construction process that eschewed complex executive architectural drawings. The brick facade—as much a result of the construction methods as it was the limited budget—was imagined as a kind of contemporary mashrabiya (also known as a shanasheel), an abstract take on the wood latticework used to decorate windows throughout the Arab world. More on the project over at Arch Daily.

· Next Office covers house near Tehran in a curved concrete facade [Dezeen]
· Sharifi-ha House / Nextoffice – Alireza Taghaboni [Arch Daily]
· Danial / Reza Sayadian + Sara Kalantary [Arch Daily]
· 2 Offices, 2 Brothers / Arsh Design Group [Arch Daily]
· Brick Pattern House / Alireza Mashhadmirza [Arch Daily]