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Backstein Magazine- Vorteile No.18

Habitat for Orphan Girls (Khansar, Iran)


The architecture of this Iranian orphanage for girls is both modest and monumental at the same time. It should set a visible sign for these once stigmatized children.

The Habitat for Orphan Girls is located in the historical district of Khansar, a small town in the heart of Iran. The client's original intention was to build a public clinic before a decision was made to build a home for orphan girls. The aim was to ensure that the orphans, stigmatized as pitiful, do not grow up in a surveillance situation, but can participate in the normal everyday life of the rather narrow-minded social environment of Khansar. The simple yet impressive architecture of the facility should not only offer the girls sleeping accommodation with public and private spaces, but also contribute to social exchange with one another through special balconies. They should be able to take part in the funeral festivals and the changing seasons by changing the "hijab", the layout of their balconies, just as they change their hijab and Chador according to the cultural traditions of the city. In this project, we decided to push the boundaries of architecture and use it as a medium with which to influence human existence and improve the quality of life.

The Iranian architecture firm, ZAV Architects, founded in 2007, believes that architecture can contribute to improving social wellbeing and changing values. The young architects from Tehran oversee projects across the country.