igol house in iran by architect nasim razavian

the igol house winks at the multiplicity of the persian garden

on a steep hill in Iranian igol village, architect nasim razavian built this charming holiday home residence for a couple of hikers. the building, partially cantilevered to reduce the footprint, sits as a white volume floating above two upper terraces and reaching up to the large sepidar trees in the neighboring northern plot.

the holidays are a time when work and the tensions of everyday life are suspended. the design of the igol house celebrates this state through the extension of time; it is a hymn to slowness. inspired by the poetic multiplicity of Persian gardens, the existing terraces are transformed into polyphonic stratified gardens. moreover, responding to the cemetery facing the plot, razavian choreographed the spaces to activate the joyful relativity between the human body, gravity and obliquity.

image © nasim razavian

gigantic igol excavations are currently destroying its mountains. when razavian’s clients purchased the land for the igol house, it consisted of nine terraces built on the steep 75% slope. these terraces had destroyed the gardens that had once stood there. the building owners tried to dig these terraces, causing an unfortunate landslide of the adjacent plots. Therefore, the architect decided to avoid excavation and, if necessary, add soil to the existing terraces to turn them into cultivable bases. accordingly, after sufficient extension and adjustment, the nine plots are now transformed into layered gardens.

the new plot design nods to pardis (پردیس), the Persian garden celebrated as an earthly paradise and reinvented over the centuries in multiple forms. Razavian explains: we wanted to respond to this multiplicity of ideas; the design thus superimposes multiple materializations of the garden through different layers – both material and ideological. the garden is a plot of fruit and vegetables on one side and an aromatic space on the other. it’s a swimming pool on one level and a reflecting water jet on another. it holds a zone of socialization which finally unfolds in a private space. it activates movement while stimulating stillness. etc

igol house 2
image © nasim razavian

withstand gravity & explore the potential of the oblique

due to the steep slope and the narrow and changing width of the plot, the building becomes a threshold that detaches and connects the front and rear gardens. to access the house, you have to cross the front gardens by climbing the stairs or taking the inclined exterior elevator. the elevator hangs on a slanting green strip that replaced the steep, slippery and damaged exterior stone stairs built by the previous owners years ago. the experience of traveling with this lift is, according to razavian, a celebration of the slope and its obliqueness.

indeed, placing the igol house at the top of the slope evokes the potential for obliqueness and resistance to gravity, an approach very appropriate for the architects’ hiking clients. for example, the oblique movement and suspension of the outdoor elevator on a green strip – moving slowly between the polyphonic layered gardens – or the playfully changing direction of the stairs recall the existence of gravity while activating the game , curiosity and wonder. “the design of the igol house and its layered gardens introduces a form of life that is neither horizontal nor vertical but both or what exists in between: an oblique life”, says the architect.

embracing slowness and fluidity through handcrafted home design

the igol house has three floors. each operates autonomously as it maintains unique dialogues with the outside, assumes different sets of activities, and activates certain sensations and modes. together they allow a polyphonic assembly. the main entrance on the ground floor houses an art studio for one of the clients. the first floor accommodates a bedroom, a balcony, a bathroom and a multifunctional room, while the second level accommodates a living room and a balcony. furthermore, access is given to the rear layered gardens on the first and second floors, bringing the garden inside the house by weaving the interiors and exteriors through movement.

elevating that inner flow is a strong emphasis on craftsmanship and materiality. the previous owners used local green tuff stone to build the terrace facades, perimeter walls and steep staircases. these stones are either reused or replaced in plot extensions and renovations. Additionally, the concrete Razavian used in the landscape design is cast in rough-textured recycled wood to record the passage of time, provide more friction, and prevent slippage when walked on. ribbed material was also used for a stream running through one of the rear gardens; this helps to intensify the sound of water while stimulating the growth of new life forms, such as moss and algae.

this vacation home perched in rural iran celebrates the slow and oblique life
image © nasim razavian

one of the last remaining local blacksmiths made the door and window frames of the house to revive this endangered Iranian craft. at the same time, the floor tiles of the art studio are developed in collaboration with the artist of the house and made by a local ceramist. razavian has also designed multi-functional furniture to conceal fan coils while serving as a kitchen table, cupboard, storage, raised floor or drawer.

returning to the concept of slowness, razavian explored several architectural operations that activated this sensation. for example, the small windows on the north side capture the slow movement of the trunks, branches and leaves of the sepidary trees. the rooftop is one of the places where slowness is also celebrated. posed as a white surface floating in its surroundings, it offers a panoramic view of the enchanting landscape and celebrates the feeling of joyful vertigo that the owners, being hikers, are familiar with.

igol house 3
image © studio de l’acte

igol house 5
image © studio de l’acte

igol house 6
image © studio de l’acte

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