Reprinted from:
Architecture & Urbanism magazine, No. 78/79
Autumn/Winter 2005

Light in Traditional and Islamic Architecture of Iran

By: Simon Ayvazian, Iran
The study analyses the elements of traditional and Islamic Architecture, drawing general principles from the current pluralism of view made possible by advances in design and construction. It is a study of some of the major components of Iranian architecture with the focus to natural light as a source of emergence of space qualities. A form of organization, which is very complex due to several inherent problems of conceptual residual spaces, elaborating an entity of unified morphology.

In view of light, as a major space component, the overall composition, with adjacent servant spaces, find a particular form of organization, which is centralized and where hierarchies define the general pattern. The order of structure, in which light comes as a containing discovering geometry, commands subsidiary openings, which imposes a disciplined regularity of spaces whilst offering greater complex layers of perception.

Architectural configurations exist by the illumination of enclosing surfaces. Skylight and prophetical lights produce a particular lighting, which comes as an integral part of the volumetric space itself. These openings have also, always, a direct relationship to the structure, the walls and the volumes.

The light descended by means of a vertical receptor, a link is then re-established with the whole, which finds its final symbolic significance through different perspectives and angles of incidence.

In Iranian architecture, the light metaphor engenders metaphysical connotations, where the Devine is always omnipresent. Light is always a virtue of the sky, of heaven, of truth, of realization, even if brightness is sometimes hidden by shade or darkness. Light and shade are maintained for space perception, while never be in real conflict of meanings.

Continuity, passage, the heavenly sphere, stars, centrality, unity are notions and elements of a concept of Islamic architecture, where the environment always remains the impact of the Creator's trace.

Light, through the succession of sequences, bring in life the symbolism of the supra-natural and the living social connotations of man's passage through earth.

In traditional architecture, the juxtaposition of elements are always aimed towards ambiences, where light changes petrified materials to living enhanced conceptual and intellectual entities. Therefore, nothing remains futile.

Light-space is more than an imaginary space, it comes as a life meaning, a receptacle of human soul and man's activities, illuminating senses to the universal existential principles. A relationship is established with a dependence of man towards heaven, where surfaces, walls and roofs become the symbolic embracing envelop for a world-view made of spiritual values of being. There is always a balance between the inversion of light with the general overall spatial geometry of order, spirit and wisdom.

In Iranian architecture, the study of light, in accordance with volumes and structure, has always been considered as an essential part of the different stages of the building and its realization. Giving the sensation of an unity, which remains at the center of some conceived world's spirituality.


Research: Architecture


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