Iranian Domesticity in the Houses’ Semi-open Spaces

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Azita Rezvan is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California. She has a Master degree in Architecture from Tehran University, Iran , and a Master of Science in Regenerative Studies from the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Ms. Rezvan is a licensed architect and plannerfrom Iran whose professional work includes national and international architectural and urbanism projects, and research on suitability in developing countries.

This paper is a part of my thesis which presented to the faculty of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree master of science in Regenerative Studies on December 2008. The purpose of the thesis was to gather qualitative data on the role of semi-open spaces, in traditional and modern Iranian houses in mediating climate and social relations, with the goal of regenerating these spaces in the design of contemporary Iranian houses. The research considered Iranian houses’ semi-open spaces in three parts: historical reviews, data collection, and design recommendations. This paper is focused on the second part which is a survey with consumers. However it briefly reviews the first part, which is an introduction to three historical periods of Iranian housing development, documents the variety and shapes that semi-open spaces take, their philosophical foundations, in addition to the cultural, social, technological and economical importance they have had in people’s daily lives.
Iranian domesticity is the primary setting for evaluating the main role and importance of these spaces in Iranian culture. Domesticity has been an unstudied field in Iran, and the limited research that has been done, remains unpublished. The specific and abrupt line in Iran between inside and outside the home; between those who are “in” and those who are “out,” between family and strangers, creates many obstacles to making fair judgments about and conducting an unbiased study regarding interior relationships and behaviors in contemporary Iranian life. This study includes interviews with individual Iranians to learn their attitudes, values, and domestic practices related to semi-open spaces. Two samples of Iranian-nationals and Iranian-immigrants participated in the survey and compared semi-open/open spaces in their traditional houses in Iran with modern houses where they currently live in. While exploring memories of Eyvan [porch] and other semi-open/open spaces in traditional houses in comparison with these spaces in modern houses, the study tries to explain the reasons for the loss of usage of these spaces in Iranians’ lifestyles. Both Los Angeles and Tehran samples reveal their worldwide and modern life concerns about the use of semi-open spaces; however, the Tehran sample has national concerns, too. These concerns expose the conflict between traditional lifestyles and modern forms of building spaces in Iran.

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Architecture & Planning
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