Habitat for Orphan Girls (Khansar, Iran)
Designed by ZAV Architects studio and completed in 2014, the "Habitat for Orphan Gils" is located in the historical part of the city of Khansar. The proposal of a welfare institution instead of the clinic was the first question since the site's location could eventually come to help its inhabitants; the orphans can find shelter under the protection of history.
The designers' aim for the building was that the latter could protect its dwellers from being under surveillance in the conservative social context of Khansar, thus offering them the possibility of a normal life. The girls just needed a cozy apartment that looked nice and makes them proud. It was supposed to be home, as opposed to a disciplined space of a dormitory that almost looks like a prison. The building was thought to be both modest and at the same time monumental, with public and private spaces but also with special balconies with a social scenario: they can express themselves through the changing seasons by changing the "Hijab" (veil) of their balconies, just like they are used to wearing and changing their Hijab in accord with the town's cultural timeline, reminding aesthetics of censorship.
It was chosen as an honest construction technology for this charity project with an area of 354 sqm and a built area of 800 sqm. Construction cost -with local craftsmanship- ended up much less than expected in the end.
The designers of the building believe that architecture can contribute to improving social well being and ethical reform, by using it as a media that can affect humanity and improve quality of life, thus causing a positive, significant impact on society as a whole. Isn't it what architecture is all about?
This project was the recipient of the 1st place of the Memar Awards (an award set for the best architectural designs of the year in Iran) in 2014, in the public building category.