Windcatcher | Representative of Iranian desert architecture
Iran is a land with a vastly diverse climate, and this diversity has caused the development of various structures.Likewise the fact that our ancestors in arid areas invented Qanats and tunnels to deal with the water shortage, it was the scorching desert heat and the arid climate that made them try to devise a plan to escape the heat and rest in a comfortably cooler weather and in the shadow. Windcatcher, this representative of desert architecture, not only helped people face the summer heat, but also added to the beauty and glory of these cities and gave them a prominent personality.
According to the historical documents windcatcher ( Badgir in Persian) had other names as well, such as: Bad khan, Badras,Badahang , Badjeer, Khishkhan and etc. This structure is actually a tower-like building with some openings at the top which is used for ventilation and cooling the air inside houses, Ab anbar (water reservoir) or mines in middle east or north Africa and specifically in arid and semi-arid areas.
Windcatcher is one of the symbols of Iranian civilization and architecture. There is no certain evidence of the first wind catcher ever built but building and using it goes back to 4000 BC.
The main application of this structure is in the central and southern part of Iran. Cities like :Yazd, Ardakan, Kerman, Bandar Abbas and some of the Persian gulf islands.
Also some countries like Afghanistan, Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey and etc, use some kind of windcatcher as well.
Structure consists of two sets of components some of which are decorative and some are functional.
Different parts of Badgir are :
- Roof of the wind catcher
- Channel :the part between head of the windcatcher and the roof of the building.
- Head : the upper part of the structure that consists of the inlet and outlet openings and ventilation shafts.
- Divider partitions : they’re mostly made of clay or bricks and divide the ventilation channels into smaller parts. Each wind catcher has two kinds of partitions.
- main partition : their length mostly reaches the center of the tower and they divide the main shaft into smaller ones.
- secondary partition: they’re shorter and don’t reach the center of the tower. Looking at them from outside they look like cooler louvers.
- Open and closed vents: the space between two partitions. If the air can go through, it’s called an open vent and if it can’t, it’s called a closed vent.
As it was mentioned before windcatcher is a tall tower with vents and openings in the downwind. These towers are capable of capturing the wind and directing it to the building.
The wind enters the tower from the inlet openings at the top and with high pressure and then leaves from outlet openings and windows on the other side of the tower which is upwind, with lower pressure.
In some windcatcher there is a wet surface such as a small pool, wet straws or wet clays downwind in order to cool down the air and increase the moisture.
The underside surface is normally a quadrangle, pentagon, hexagon or octagon. Also sometimes it can be a circle.
In general in Persian architecture there are three kinds of wind catchers :Ardakani, kermani and Yazdi.
One sided wind catcher is one of the simple and efficient ones.One sided windcatcher is so simple and efficient that in most buildings there was one for each room. This type was used most in some cities including Tabas, Meibod and Aqda. These windcatchers are generally shorter than other types. Also in some cities close to the sea they were used to transfer the fresh air in to the building.
This two sided wind catcher which is also known as twin wind catcher, are as simple and small as Ardakani windcatcher. This is the type of wind catcher which is used in most local water reservoirs “Ab Anbar”.
Yazdi wind catcher or four sided wind catcher is often bigger than other types. It’s also taller than other types and has a more complicated building. The underside surface in these wind catchers has even transformed to hexagon or octagon over time. The wind catcher of Dowlatabad Garden in Yazd which is one of the most beautiful gardens in Iran is eight-sided.
Considering the different types of windcatchers, they’re built in different structures including one-sided, two-sided, four-sided, separate and contiguous three-sided, polyhedral and Chopoghi wind catcher based on the direction of the dominant wind.
One sided wind catcher is one of the simplest kinds of wind catcher. There is often one separate wind catcher for each room in the buildings with one-sided wind catcher. In order to prevent mass destruction during storms and hurricanes, the wind catcher was built facing the fresh and cool breeze and the other openings were closed.
Two-sided windcatcher has two sides facing each other with long and narrow windows without fences and also some holes inside the building.
Three-sided windcatchers are divided to two types :separate and contiguous. In these wind catchers we can use one, two or three sides. This type is the least common one.Four-sided windcatcher is the most common one. Normally the main channels of this wind catcher are separated to different parts by wood, breaks or chalk.
In some cases there is a small pool at the bottom of the tower in order to prevent the dust from entering the house and also to cool down the air.
Qanat water was used for the areas that it wasn’t possible to build a pool
Four-sided windcatcher is one of the most common ones.Polyhedral windcatcher is more widespread and can be found in many places.
Last kind of windcatcher is chopoghi windcatcher. In this type some curved pipe shape structures are used as windcatcher instead of straight towers. It has a similar function to polyhedral windcatcher and is mostly found in Sirjan.
Windcatchers can have one, two or three floors. More floors increase the height and thus the amount of wind intake. This also reduces the effect of the uneven surface on wind intake.In some cases upper floor of the windcatcher was used to signal and guide travelers.
There are many windcatchers in Iran from which we’ll name some of the most famous ones:
Dowlatabad eight-sided windcatcher in Yazd which is the tallest windcatcher in the world with 33 meters in height.
Cavity windcatcher in Boroujerdi house.
Three-storey and four-storey of Sadri garden in Taft.
Chopoghi windcatcher in Sirjan.
Tabas: The two-storey and eight-sided windcatcher in Amir garden in Tabas
Barakoo : Two storey and four-sided windcatcher in Aghazade house in Barakoo
Chehel sotoun palace :Two-storey circular windcatcher in Chehel sotoun palace.
Windcatcher was acknowledged as a world heritage by UNESCO but it’s not registered yet. Besides Iran some other countries such as Arab Emirates are trying to register this structure as their own.
To read this article in Persian Language Click here .
* Written by Marjan Ghanavati and Translated by Nafiseh Asadollahi.