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[Residing] Under the same roof:  Co-Existence of Permanent and Temporary Dwelling Patterns in the Pilgrims’ Residential Zone


     M.Arch Thesis, Summer 2015, University of Tehran

     Adviser: Dr. Issa Hojat




Background: Mashhad is the second-largest holy city in the world and is a burial site for Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam and a towering figure in Shia Islam History. The city attracts more than 20 million tourists and pilgrims every year, many of whom come to pay homage to the Imam Reza shrine also known as the Holy Shrine. Holy Shrine has been a magnet for travelers since medieval times and it had a profound impact on local lifestyle and housing typology. When there was no formal hospitality industry, locals used to provide almost all of the lodging needs of medieval pilgrims by renting part of their living spaces. The coexistence of permeant and temporary residents under the same roof led to the creation of interesting housing patterns -sometimes not very different than the contemporary Airbnbs.

In recent decades, the physical urban context that used to be mostly residential has witnessed many transformations such as urban decay, gentrification, and finally the rise of large-scale hospitality and commercial developments. These transformations marginalized local residents and the livelihood of historical housing patterns has been endangered.

Project Description:

Located in the old urban fabric neighboring the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, the thesis project tries to recognize the pilgrimage identity of Mashhad- and revive the so-called “soul of the city” which is the experience of living “under the same roof” So the project offers a family-run lodging experience to empower local residents of the district. Although inspired by historical housing patterns, the proposed scale for the project is larger than precedents to give locals advantage points to compete against existing hotels and commercial developments.

Two historic houses plans and elevations.jpg

Historical houses usually have a similar layout. There are usually multiple rooms that are connected directly to a courtyard or corridor. Different rooms can be occupied by separate tenants, and the dwellers would get to share the bathroom and kitchen. 


Interestingly not only would landlords (hosts) share the common areas of the house with the tenants (guests), but they might also rent some of their personal spaces during the high season. 

Prominent Dwelling Patterns in Historical Houses of Mashhad
Project formation
In the Shades of Beloved

In the Shades of Beloved

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