The role of flexibility and adaptability in extending the lifespan of traditional houses: the case of Sabzevar, Iran

Document Type : Case Study


Institute of Architecture, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Vienna, Austria


A house is not primarily a solid building; it is a system of activities. It has to accommodate a broad range of diurnal and nocturnal activities throughout the entire year, and this can best be achieved by means of a flexible spatial configuration. Any changes in the house users and their needs affect the space requirements, but we cannot predict and control these processes.
This (case study) paper focuses on fourteen traditional houses in Sabzevar (a city in a hot and arid region of Iran) that are (were) registered on the National Iranian heritage list. Due to rapid economic development in Iran during the past decades, changing lifestyles and the inability of the authorities to preserve the historic buildings, most of the valuable traditional houses have been destroyed or have lost their original function. This study tries to explore the role of flexibility and adaptability in demolition process of traditional houses in this region.