The Colourful Domes of Hormuz Island

A Tehran-based architecture studio, ZAV Architects, has recently built colourful, domed housing, made of rammed earth and sand on Hormuz island of Iran.

Approximately 200 domed housing units in various scales are scattered at the site in groups and create a fifth facade from the top.

This new development realised as a series of urban developments commissioned by a semi-public institution in the area aiming to empower the local community.

This multipurpose cultural residence called the “Majara (adventure) Residence” ties together the lives of local people and visitors both culturally and economically.

The infinite number of colourful particles, be they soil, sand, gravel or stone, pile up and form the rainbow topography of Hormuz Island. In this project a carpet is woven with granular knots inspired by the particles that make up the ecotone of the island has also been incorporated!

The island is a formerly glorious historic port in the strategic strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, with surreal landscapes. Unfortunately, today, local inhabitants of this picturesque, touristic and politically strategic island struggle economically.

Inspiration and Process

The firm asked themselves, “In a country where the state struggles with political disputes outside its borders, every architectural project becomes a proposal for internal governing alternatives, asking basic questions: what are the limits of architecture and how can it suggest a political alternative for communal life? How can it attain social agency?”

The continuous colourful domed structures are inspired by granule structures of the land and are used to create a macro-level architecture. Derived from the site’s inputs, the architects used sand particles and filled in the bags that shape the domes, which are the spatial particles that make up the entire building.

“Charta” a semi-open space in the south of the site, for a gradual transition from closed to open spaces. Image © Payman Barkhordari

The studio used rammed earth and sand in the bags to construct the domes, this technique, known “Superadobe” invented by Iranian-born architect Nader Khalili, is a simple and innovative technique used in the region.

“Their small scale makes them compatible with the building capabilities of local craftsmen and unskilled workers, which have been prepared for this project with previous smaller projects,” added the architects.

“Today they are trained to master superadobe masonry. It is as if Nader Khalili multiplied exponentially.”

“Architecture has the capacity be a mediator in the middle ground that converges the interests of different groups, from the state and investors to various classes and groups of people.”

“Majara does so in bringing together the owners of the land from the neighbouring port of Bandar Abbas who organize an annual landmark event in Hormuz, the investors from the capital city Tehran, and the local people of Hormuz as partners in the project.”

Image © Tahmineh Monzavi

The amenity domes also have staff rooms, cafe, restrooms, storage, laundry, tourist info, salon and prayer rooms.

Image © Soroush Majidi

In the interiors, the architects designed colourful interiors which is a continuation of the outside appearance of the development. The interiors are based on a simple layout — they are furnished with locally produced goods, and have a fairly flexible arrangement.

Image © Payman Barkhordari
Image © Tahmineh Monzavi

The residence also has solar domes. The design is such that it obscures people on the roof from the world’s eyes, while they can still look at the sky-makes perfect sense in a conservative cultural landscape!

View of Qeshm Island from the rooftop. Image © Tahmineh Monzavi
Interior. Image © Tahmineh Monzavi
Exterior. Image © Soroush Majidi, Image © DJI

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