Windcatcher | Representative of Iranian desert architecture


Windcatcher is a 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.


windcather was used in order to overcome the scorching heart of the desert.


According to the historical documents windcatcher ( Badgir in Persian) had other names as well, such as: Bad khan, Badras,Badahang , Badjeer, Khishkhan and etc.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.


windcather is present in most countries with arid climate as well as Iran.


Structure consists of two sets of components some of which are decorative and some are functional.
Different parts of Badgir are :

  • Ventilator
  • 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.

The Function 


Each wind catcher consists of two sets of decorative and functional elements.

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 windcatcher the wind enters through the inlet openings at the top and leaves through the outlet openings on the other side.

In general in Persian architecture there are three kinds of wind catchers :Ardakani, kermani and Yazdi.


windcather | Isna

One sided windcatcher is one of the simple and efficient ones.

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.



Two sided kermani wind catcher is also known as twin wind catcher .

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”.


windcatehr | ghoolabad

Yazdi windcatcher is known as four sided windcatcher.

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.

Yazdi windcatcher or four sided windcatcher is often bigger than other types. It's also taller than other types and has a more complicated building. The underside surface in these windcatchers has even transformed to hexagon or octagon over time. The windcatcher of Dowlatabad Garden in Yazd which is one of the most beautiful gardens in Iran is eight-sided

Windcatchers are built in different structures depending on the weather conditions in the area and the direction of the dominant wind.

Diffrerent type 

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.

windcather | goolabad

One-sided wind catcher was just built facing the dominant wind in the area 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.


This windcatcher is found in most Southern cities in Iran .

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.


This windcatcher which is mostly found in Sirjan has more ornamental designs than other kinds.

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.


Two-storey windcatchers were used in order to reduce the effect of the uneven surface on wind intake.

Famous Badgir

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.


Ladgir windcatcher in Dowlatabad Garden in Yazd is the tallest windcatcher in the world.

Cavity windcatcher in Boroujerdi house.


The windcatcher of Boroujerdi house is one of the most beautiful windcatchers in kashan architecture.

Three-storey and four-storey of Sadri garden in Taft.

Chopoghi windcatcher in Sirjan.


windcatcher is one of the most beautiful ones in Iran and even in the world and was built during first Pahlavi dynasty inspired by the smokestack of the ships.

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


The picture on 20000 rials bill is the windcatcher in Aghazade house.

Chehel sotoun palace :Two-storey circular windcatcher in Chehel sotoun palace.


The underside surface of the windcatcher in Chehel sotoun is 2 meters and its height is 10 meters.

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.

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