Reprinted from:
Memar magazine
Fall 2003

Research: Iran
The Architecture of Birjand City

By: Zohreh BozorgNia, Iran
In this article, the local traditional architecture of Birjand is studied, together with its contemporary architecture up to the time of Pahlavi the Second. The buildings of Birjand are discussed from two points of view: function and aesthetics. The function of the buildings has been segregated into two groups: public and private. In the aesthetic evaluation of the buildings, the following items have been taken into consideration:

- The kind of material used and the different ways of their combination
- The form of plan, volumes and building elements and also their arrangement rules
- Proportions and the relation between the surface of full and empty parts of the facades
- Building ornaments, such as brickwork, tile work, stonework, woodwork, etc. Patterns, color production, texture and color combination has been discussed.
- Constructional methods, including load-bearing and partition elements
- Different kinds of vaults
- Harmony or disharmony between different parts and also between the building and the environment

The characteristics of 16 residential buildings are categorized as follows:

- The roofing of all residential units consists of vaults and domes. However, Tarami's (verandas in front of the rooms) have flat roof, made of laths and slates.

- Adobe is the dominant material of the buildings in this city. The roofs and some of the walls are covered with mud straw mixture. The main facade of each building faces a courtyard and most of the time its finishing consists of brickwork and occasionally a combination of brick and stucco. Stone is also used in the Socle of some buildings. However, Socle is usually made of bricks, but in a pattern different from that of the rest of the facade.

- Most of the houses have brickwork in their facades.

- In Birjand and its suburbs, there are a number of castles, dating back to the time when safekeeping of the city was a primary concern. Birjand is built upon hills. The residential buildings, next to the castle, are made of adobe and have a mud straw mixture finishing (in some case also mixed with gypsum). The combination of these houses forms an organic texture with narrow crooked streets influenced by the slope of the hill.

- In the flat areas around the castle, one could see a number of public buildings, such as caravansaries, mostly made of adobe and with mud-straw-gypsum mixture finishing. The city's bazaar is next to the castle. Birjand's Bazaar is not roofed, except for a small part. One can also see a number of "Saras" next to the bazaar. The facade of the bazaar has brickwork ornamentation in some parts.

- In the historic part of the city, the city profile generally consists of mud straw mix facades, dome and barrel vaults roofs and brickwork portals. As a result of introversion of city's architecture, the connection between the interior space of the houses and the alleys is limited to the main entrance.

The most dominant ornamentation in Birjand  is the brickwork at the portals. These portals have various patterns and are made of different types of bricks.


Research: Architecture


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