International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Sustainability in Building & Urban Scale in Iranian Arid Old Cities

Marziehsadat Nematimehr

Department of Urban Design, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Desert-fringe cities constitute a considerable number of the Iranian settlements. In these regions the issue of protection against heat and dryness of air and soil plays a vital role, so providing shadow and finally decreasing stress of the weather is a critical factor for the human well being.
This article aims to review the theoretical underpinnings of the concept of “Sustainable Urban Design” and subsequently “Sustainable Architecture” to consider the concept of Eco Design as one of the shaping principles in architecture and urban design in Iranian arid old cities. The paper suggests that through application of the principles of sustainability and through learning lessons from the traditional architectural heritage of the communities involved, one can guide the design toward a more harmonious relationship with its natural settings.

The paper consists of two major parts. The first part will cover the idea of sustainable design from a general perspective and give a few suggestions in regards to the theoretical framework, including:

  • Formal modeling & ornamentation
  • Openings & fenestration
  • Building materials
  • Efficiency & usefulness
  • Durability and long lasting
  • Flexibility & robustness in order to achieve adaptation to the needs & circumstances
  • Relation with natural context and creating micro climate
  • Answering to the problems beyond the building scale, urban scale

The second and more important part will be concerned with a case study of Yazd Old City in Iran. Intelligent buildings & contexts will be presented in light of the theoretical framework.

Keywords: Sustainability, Building Scale, Urban Scale, Arid Cities, Old City, Iran