A Look Inside ‘A House in Jolfa District’, Winner of Iran’s 2021 Memar Award

‘A House in Jolfa District’, designed by Iranian architects Ehsan Hosseini and Elham Geramizadeh of Logical Process in Architectural Design, is modestly located in a dense and ancient area of ​​Isfahan between old Armenian churches and old local cafes and small houses. The residential building was the winner of Iran’s Memar Award 2021, an architecture award organized by Memor Magazine. The location of the project in the Jolfa district of Isfahan imposed many constraints on this project. For example, limits have been set on the height of the buildings in order to protect this area, which is rich in valuable cultural heritage. A look at the context in which ‘A House in Jolfa District’ is set would shed some light on why this project has received such a good response despite its modest appearance.

A house in Jolfa District sinks into the ground, so that a hollow, sun-filled and cool garden brings the internal spaces together Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

Named after the city of Jolfa in the East Azerbaijan province of Iran, New Jolfa is a district in Isfahan; The second largest city in Iran, located in the center of this country. Once the glorious capital of the Safavid dynasty (16e-18e century), Isfahan is home to amazing Persian-Islamic architecture and many World Heritage Sites. At the heart of this city is the Jolfa district, which is characterized by its large population of Christian Armenians. A population of Armenians was initially moved from the city of Jolfa and housed here by Shah Abbas Safavi, and then many other Armenians migrated to New Jolfa over the centuries, especially after the violence of the Ottoman Empire against them. Today, the Jolfa district is a beautiful, dense area and tourist destination with beautiful old churches and trendy cafes. It is also hailed as a symbol of religious tolerance in a Muslim country.

The placement of the project site in the historic area of ​​Jolfa limited the height of the house|  A house in the Jolfa| . district  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
The placement of the project site in the historic area of ​​Jolfa limited the height of the house Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

Close to Iran’s central desert, Isfahan is also known for its extensive gardens and tall trees that provide shade and cool the air in the city’s often harsh climate. Considering this aspect of Iranian architecture, the architects were adamant to give this house a garden, because as residents of this city they have experienced that the well-being of the residents is in close contact with nature.

 The southern breeze is cooled in the shade of the garden and then finds its way out from the backyards through the interior spaces|  A house in the Jolfa| . district  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
The southern breeze is cooled in the shade of the garden and then finds its way out from the backyards through the interior spaces Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

Height restriction and the density of the Jolfa neighborhood were serious challenges to their goal. Their solution was to dig a void in the house where a small garden in the basement could be formed. The house is sunk into the earth to create a deep garden below ground level, where there is some shade to sit and rest from the heat of the day and allow natural light to find its way in. This empty shaft also provides natural ventilation, as the southern breeze is cooled in the shade of the garden and then travels through the interior spaces and exits the backyard.

Sharing a house in the Jolfa| . neighborhood  A house in the Jolfa| . district  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
Parts of a house in the Jolfa . district Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

The entrance of the house is modest. Minimal black gates alternate with simple yet elegant brick architecture; also an architectural element that is local and traditional to the Jolfa district, moreover, a material that does not penetrate or amplify the heat or cold absorbed from the outside and thus the best material for a city like Isfahan experiencing warm days and frigid nights.

Exterior view of the house that won Iran's 2021 Memar Award in the 'Residential' category |  A house in the Jolfa| . district  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
Exterior view of the house that won Iran’s 2021 Memar Award in the ‘Residential’ categoryImage: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

The courtyard garden offers residents the benefit of natural light without feeling the harsh heat. It has also provided an answer to a sensitive cultural issue; the depth of the garden ensures that the family is not overlooked by the adjacent houses which are very close together. Apart from the main garden of the house, the loft has allowed the design to create a small garden on each floor that different residents of the house can enjoy alone or with a guest without disturbing the others.

Plans - A house in Jolfa District, Isfahan, Iran |  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
Plans – A house in Jolfa district, Isfahan, Iran Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

The inside benefits from an open space concept and large glass walls on all floors allow residents in different parts of the house to take advantage of the view of the garden and the play of light formed by the leaves of the trees. The glass walls create a second inner layer of the house that shields it from cold and hot weather. The outer masonry layer of the house is visible through this glass. The square cavities in the brick wall allow harmless natural light to flood into the house.

  • Details of the house |  A house in the Jolfa| . district  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
    Details of the house Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office
  • View of the clear windows from inside and outside |  A house in the Jolfa| . district  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
    View of the clear windows from inside and out Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

The staircase design is in stark contrast to the sterilized and austere forms of the interior spaces. While still white, their sharp edges and geometric shapes create a clever visual dynamic in the otherwise unified environment.

The white staircase contrasts sharply with the sterilized and austere forms of the interior spaces |  A house in the Jolfa| . district  Logical Process Office |  Ehsan Hosseini |Elham Geramizadeh|  STIRworld
The white staircase contrasts sharply with the sterilized and austere forms of the interior spaces Image: Courtesy of Logical Process Office

The spaces and floors are not only connected by means of circulation elements, such as the elevator or the stairs, but are also connected to each other via the shafts and the voids that are formed by the geometric design of the house. Life flows in different niches and pieces in ‘A House in Jolfa District’, currents separated by design but also somehow connected, again by the magic of design. Perhaps the poetic phrases of the architects themselves can best describe the architectural concept of the house in the Jolfa district:

A thumbnail is a collage of experience sequences,
the presence of time in the irregular connection of the spaces,
the entanglement of back and forth; outside and inside.”

Project details

Name: A house in the Jolfa . district
Place: Isfahan, Iran
Year of completion: 2021
Architect: Logical process office
Design group: Ehsan Hosseini, Elham Geramizadeh, Shirin Sharif-o-nasab, Ahmmadreza Tavakoli

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