Asbads (Windmills) in Iran | Mixtures of art and technology
Asbad is one of the most significant architectural structures in desert climates of Iran, which converts kinetic energy of wind into other forms of energy. They can be seen in Sistan-Baluchistan, Southern Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi provinces. Being masterpieces and a sample of ancient Iranians’ genius, Asbads were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The reason of Asbads’ construction
Asbad is a smart technique to grid grains, which people built in order to adapt with nature and turns threats and obstacles into opportunities.
Asbads were built in areas that had almost abundant winds during the year, which are known as ‘120 day-winds’ or ‘black winds’, but water was scarce. An Asbad is comprised of 8 chambers and each chamber has 6 blades. When the wind enters the chambers it turns the blades, and then rotates the grid stones. To make the best use out of the winds, they were often constructed at the highest spot of the area.
Many historians think Iran’s Asbads date back to pre-Islam. The first Asbads seem to have been originated in Sistan, but the Nashtifan Asbads, located in Khorasan Razavi province and Khaf city, date back to Safavid dynasty which are still operational after hundreds of years.
Environment- friendly structures
Asbads are truly a local creative thought, which were wisely built to make the best use of the existing potentials of that area to fulfill the needs of local communities. These unique, industrial and architectural structures were in fact mechanical machines that played an important role in the lives of local people. Asbads were built to get benefit from the most available energy in the area, wind, to bring prosperity and comfort to local people, despite the lack of water and without causing any pollution or danger to the environment.
The architecture of Asbads
Asbads are two-story structures would millstones are on the ground floor and sails on the first floor. Their main construction materials (clay, straw, mud-bricks) were locally obtained; the heavy millstones were brought from nearby mountains and the vertical axes are made of durable, long lasting wood.
In conclusion, these technical structures display the Iranians’ ingenuity since Asbads’ construction materials are locally available, they are adaptable to ecosystem, they use renewable energy and they have architectural innovations.
* Written by Arefeh Firouzan.
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