Scholarly article on topic 'Design Characteristics and Adaptive Role of the Traditional Courtyard Houses in the Moderate Climate of Iran'

Design Characteristics and Adaptive Role of the Traditional Courtyard Houses in the Moderate Climate of Iran Academic research paper on "Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries"

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Abstract of research paper on Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, author of scientific article — Fatemeh Biabani Moghadam Baboli, Norhati Ibrahim, Dahlia Mohds Sharif

Abstract The building sector consumes a high percentage of total energy worldwide and in turn, a primary contributor to the global environmental degradation. Today with the limited energy resources, vernacular architecture presents an essential source of architectural knowledge in respond to climate and culture without reliance on energy-guzzling active systems. This paper presents a case study of thirty-four courtyard houses in the moderate climate of Babul in terms of its adaptive potential to suit the users’ comfort requirements. Most houses are a 2-sided type with the north-south orientation. It reveals adaptation behavior of the occupants who frequently use the spaces throughout the year.

Academic research paper on topic "Design Characteristics and Adaptive Role of the Traditional Courtyard Houses in the Moderate Climate of Iran"

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 201 (2015) 213 - 223

Asian Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies, AcE-Bs2015, 20-22 February 2015,

Tehran, Iran

Design Characteristics and Adaptive Role of the Traditional Courtyard Houses in the Moderate Climate of Iran

Fatemeh Biabani Moghadam Babolia*, Norhati Ibrahimb, Dahlia Mohds Sharif

a'b c Faculty of Architecture, Planning, and Surveying b Research Management Institute, University Teknologi MARA Shah Alam 40450, Selangor, Malaysia

Abstract

The building sector consumes a high percentage of total energy worldwide and in turn, a primary contributor to the global environmental degradation. Today with the limited energy resources, vernacular architecture presents an essential source of architectural knowledge in respond to climate and culture without reliance on energy-guzzling active systems. This paper presents a case study of thirty-four courtyard houses in the moderate climate of Babul in terms of its adaptive potential to suit the users' comfort requirements. Most houses are a 2-sided type with the north-south orientation. It reveals adaptation behavior of the occupants who frequently use the spaces throughout the year.

© 2015The Authors. Published by ElsevierLtd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-reviewunderresponsibilityofAMER(AssociationofMalaysianEnvironment-BehaviourResearchers) andcE-Bs(Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies, Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.

Keywords: Traditional architecture; courtyard houses; adaptive role

1. Introduction

Shelter is a basic necessity for human beings to protect themselves from the extremes of climate. Climate influences the building forms. It partly explains why built forms vary according to the region (Moradchelleh & Rashid, 2011). Other important influencing factors are the culture of people, their religion, the availability of materials and construction technology. One factor may be more dominant relatively to another, depending on the context and people's preferences (Rapoport, 1969). Making an effort to understand how built environment is shaped

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +98 9111162846. E-mail address: khanefarvardin_r@yahoo.com.

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of AMER (Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers) and cE-Bs (Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies, Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.08.170

due to the interaction between people and their surroundings has been a fascination for many researchers. People usually react to the alterations and changes caused by the environmental elements through behavioral adaptation, physiological and psychological adaptation to meet comfort requirements (De Dear & Brager, 1998). To gain desirable environment, people have a tendency to adjust their clothing change and relocate their activities to gain the desired comfort level (Roaf, Crichton, & Nicol, 2009). Environmental controlling features such as a mechanism to open and close doors, windows, and blinds increase the range of acceptable temperature of comfort in buildings (Darby&White, 2005). Therefore, thermal comfort in a building is gained through the physical elements as well as through the adaptive behaviors of the occupants (Roaf et al., 2009). This paper aims to contribute further to this area of investigation, focusing on the context of an unexplored richness of courtyard houses in a moderate climate region of Babul, Iran.

Iran experiences four types of climate conditions namely, moderate and humid, cold, hot-dry and hot-humid climates in various regions of the country. As a result, there is a diversity of vernacular architecture that could be found in different parts of the country. In general, Iranian traditional houses are classified into two recognizable types: the introverted type (with internal courtyard) and the extroverted type (without central courtyard) (Mokhtarshahi Sani, 2013). The courtyard type is widely used in the central part of Iran with hot and dry climatic condition (Heidari, 2010). However, this unique architectural feature can be found in other regions with modifications in terms of form and configuration (Amadouni, 1995). Likewise, courtyards are found in many buildings in the southern part of the Caspian Sea. In cities such as Babul, Amol, and Sari, there are many introverted buildings with design features that seem to have been inspired by the architecture of the central region of the country.

It is believed that Safavid period was the golden age of art and architecture in Iran. The Persian culture and architecture of this period was spread to other cities (Cleveland, 2009). During the Safavid and Ghajar period, Mazandaran province, located in the southern part of the Caspian Sea, started to gain recognition by the government. Many palaces, gardens, bridges, inns or caravanserai were established in Mazandaran. There is a strong probability that the traditional houses of this area was influenced by that of the central part of Iran and was also inspired by various forms of the governmental construction (Dashti, 2013). Babul is one of the major cities in Mazandaran province that was an important business center in the region. In Ghajar era, there were commercial ties between Iran and Russia, which elevated the city's economic status. In the nineteenth century, this rapid economic growth developed the city and caused it to be the main commercial center in the province (Kazembeyki & Ireland, 2003). The name of the city during that period was Barfurush, meaning a place for selling products. As the name implies, it was the center for storing and selling goods that were unloaded in the harbor in the coastal city of Babulsar (Dashti, 2013). In Pahlavi period, the name of the city was changed to Babul. Most people engaged in trades and businesses, even the governors of the city were a merchant (Kazembeyki & Ireland, 2003).

The design characteristics of the vernacular architecture in the southern part of the Caspian Sea have been investigated by many researchers (Falakian, 2013; Ghobadian, 1995; Kasmaei, 2012; Khoshsima, 2009). However, most of these studies have focused on the western parts, especially, Gilan province. Thus, this study was an attempt to investigate the design principles of traditional architecture in the eastern areas of the Caspian Sea region, focusing on courtyard houses. One of the oldest cities in this region is Babul, a city that is rich with traditional architecture. This paper attempts to investigate the traditional courtyard houses in Babul with the specific aim of clarifying their design characteristics and their adaptive role to accommodate the comfort needs of its occupants.

1.1. Methods

A field survey was conducted to collect data on existing courtyard houses in Babul. An initial field study was conducted to identify potential houses to be analyzed. The author spent a month walking through the old residential area of Babul, seeking for the available courtyard houses and getting consent from the owners to access their houses and interviews the building occupants. The study is limited by the lack of information about the houses because many of them were not registered under cultural and heritage center of Iran. The difficulty of obtaining permission from the owners narrowed down the study to thirty-four cases built between1850 to 1960 from late Ghajar to Pahlavi period. Arrangements of access into each house for interviews were made door to door. It made the process rather laborious and time-consuming. In total research spent three months to collect data. The length of time spent in

each house was between five to nine hours within two days. It allows the researcher a good time to record essential data, took photos, spoke to the building occupants, and observed environmentally adaptive behavior. The building forms of the houses, it's mass and spaces, ratios, orientations, opening and space characters, and materials used were drawn out, and collected data were categorized and classified. Then, the design characteristics of the courtyard buildings in that particular area were analyzed and explained. During the fieldwork, interview with thirteen homeowners who live in the house was carried out to discover the function of spaces, occupants' daily activities and seasonal movement within the house. Finally, the adaptive role of these houses was disclosed. The date of establishment of the houses was asked during field work from the owners.

1.2. Geographic and climatic specifications

One of the major cities in Mazandaran province is Babul, located in the latitude of 36°, 35' N and the longitude of 52°, 30' E. The city is around -1m height above the sea level (Malekshahi & Anooshe, 2000). The extensive coverage of vegetation and the intense precipitations, especially in autumn and winter, and the high percentage of humidity throughout the year are the distinguishing climatic features of this region (Ghobadian, 1995). The nearest meteorological station is located 15 kilometers away from Babul, near Ghaemshar. According to Gharakhil meteorological station, the annual average relative humidity is about 79%, with the precipitation around 729.6mm over the course of 20 years. The warmest season is summer, from June to September, with the average temperature of 25.7°c and the average maximum temperature of 27.3 °c. The coldest season is winter, from January to March, with the average temperature of 8.3 ° c and the average minimum temperature of 6.5 ° c, recorded over the course of 20 years.

1.3. Summary of in the previous studies on architecture southern part of the Caspian Sea

The type of vernacular architecture in the southern part of the Caspian Sea is known as the extroverted type mostly consists of rectangular building forms with many openings. Buildings usually are surrounded by a yard with short walls or fences for ventilation purposes and define the boundary of houses (Brian, 2006). Buildings usually are constructed in two-story levels that are oriented to the north-south direction along the Caspian Sea in the east-west elongation in to take the advantages of sea breeze (Khoshsima, 2009). Floor to ceiling height in buildings are considered adequately high to encourage more air introducing to the interior spaces (Zarkesh, Moradchelleh, & khanlari, 2012). Buildings are elevated from the ground floor by a pilot or crawl space. The basement usually is prevented due to the high amount of humidity and moisture (Moradchelleh & Rashid, 2011). A large balcony is considered around the buildings, to protect interior spaces from heavy rain, see Fig.1a. There is usually a large overhang roof to cover the balconies (Kasmaei, 2012). Gable roof is a common type of roof in this area, which is usually very steep. Due to its abundance and availability in this region, wood is the main construction material, used in structures, walls, floors, and also roofs. There are vernacular houses built completely with wood known as logged houses whose walls are made up of timber frames coated with a mixture of clay, straw, and water. Wood shingled roof and rice straw thatched roof were commonly used in this region, especially in rural areas (Ghobadian, 1995).

1.4. The Design characteristics of courtyard houses in "Hot-Arid" Region

In the hot-arid region of Iran, rooms usually were arranged around a central courtyard, see Fig.1b. Courtyard houses were designed in such a way that increases the humidity level of the interior spaces and removes heat from the living spaces that were the major problem in this area. To achieve this goal, one of the strategies was the application of a wind catcher in the architectural design of the central courtyard houses. Wind catchers were usually installed at a place in the summer quarter which sometimes had a pond in the middle of the room. Wind was introduced to the interior spaces while passing over the pond to bring cold air and humidity to the interior parts (Ahmadkhani Maleki, 2011). Pond and trees in the middle of the yard also were employed for their cooling effect and increased the humidity level of the area (Soflaee & Shokouhian, 2007). There were usually no openings to the outside, preventing heat enters the interior spaces (Mokhtarshahi Sani, 2013). Basement usually used as living space because underground living spaces have been always a cool area to live during the summer (Leylian, Amirkhani,

Bemanian, & Abedi, 2010). Besides, the spaces were divided into the winter and summer quarter. In the winter, people moved to the northeast side of the house, facing southwest to receive more sunlight, keeping the room warm naturally. In the summer, they migrated to the southwest side where there was less exposure to the sun and more introduction of the fresh breeze of the desirable wind (Brian, 2006). Buildings usually oriented in north east-south west or north west-south east direction to gain more benefit from natural resources (Nabavi, Ahmad, & Goh, 2012).

Fig. 1. (a) Typical Rural houses in Gilan province. Source: http://www.gecomuseum.com/; (b) Typical courtyard house in the hot and arid region of Iran; (c) Position of veranda in yard.

2. Findings

Houses that were built in Babul, especially during the Ghajar period, have several distinctive characters that convey the story of the people environment interaction. The design characteristics of these buildings were analyzed and discussed in the following section.

2.1. Houses forms and layout

Analysis of the plan layout of each house shows that the courtyards of these traditional houses are introverted in its nature that primarily aims to provide total visual privacy in the courtyard area. Walls around the courtyards are bordered either by rooms or approximately 3-meter high extreme walls to screen off the visual intrusion from the outside. Forms of courtyards seem to vary according to the land size, which is also a representation of the status of the owner. Around half of the houses, are a two-sided type. The interior living spaces are located on the opposite sides of the area, facing the courtyards. In other cases, living indoor spaces, arranged in adjacent each other, creating an L-shaped plan. There are also other types including three-sided and four-sided and multiple courtyard types in the design of buildings in this city. These were mainly built during the Ghajar period (Table 1).

Table 1. Degree of enclosure of the buildings.

Types One-sided Two-sided Three-sided Four-sided Multiple courtyard

Backyard is an architectural feature, considered to provide the possibility of cross ventilation for the interior spaces. It is a narrow yard at the back of the house just for ventilation purposes. The main building, which is the living space of the owner, usually consisted of two-story levels. The remaining part, including the service area such as kitchen, lavatory, storage, maid room and stable or semi-open space like verandas are usually a one-story space

on the other side of the yard. There is usually a pond in the middle of the yard where different types of flowers and trees were planted. Balcony and terrace are also common in these houses. There is an observable difference between the position of the balcony built during Ghajar and Pahlavi period. Houses built in Ghajar period have a balcony facing internally into the courtyards, whereas, houses of the Pahlavi period have balconies facing to the outside. Veranda and Ivan are addition architectural elements that are only common in the Ghajar period. Veranda usually is built around the central yard, separated from the main building. It provides a comfortable semi-outdoor open space for daily activities, see Fig.1c. Most buildings are elevated from the ground floor by basement or crawl space (Table 2).

Table 2. Frequency of architectural features in houses during Ghajar and Pahlavi period.

Architectural features Veranda Ivan Balcony Backyard Basement Terrace Pond vegetation Total number of houses

Frequency in Ghajar period 6 3 5 15 9 11 20 23 23

Frequency in Pahlavi period 0 0 6 2 5 6 7 10 11

2.2. Orientation of buildings and opening characters

Most courtyard buildings in this city are oriented to the north-south direction along the Caspian Sea (Table 3). The main building that consists of occupants' living space is located in the northern part of the building site with shallow depth plan. It's shallow plans work ideally to capture the desirable wind flow. It helps to ventilate and capture the solar heat in to dehumidify the interior spaces. In most cases, the windows and doors are installed in the northern and southern sides of the buildings, and thus, encourage a good air circulation. Except for eight buildings in which the ground floor is the winter quarter, the northern side of the houses has no openings. The south walls have more windows that promote the introduction of winter sun. The typical opening size in Ghajarian houses is 0.9 and 1.1 m in width, extended to the floor like a door (Table 3). Openings are often 1.7 m in height for windows and doors as well. These tall windows could introduce enough light and fresh air to the interior spaces. However, the height of 1.7 m for interior doors was a bit short for people. The rationale behind the design of these short doors was to ensure that people entering these spaces need to make a slight reverence. This emanates from the Iranian culture that requires one to lower their head when entering a room as a sign of respect for a person who presents in the room. However, in some building there is a combination of the various size of opening in the facade of the buildings. This second size of the window is about 1.1 m in width, which is usually around 0.5 m above the floor. It was observed that the size of openings in the Pahlavi period was increased. Most buildings usually came with large windows with 2 m in width and the smaller ones with 1.2 m in width, 0.6 to 0.8 m above the floor surface (Table 3).

Table 3. Orientation and openings size of buildings.

No Name Period Orientation Opening Opening

width (m) height (m)

1 Hariri Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

2 Aghajannasab Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

3 Ramezani Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

4 Beykaee Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

5 Soltani Ghajar East-West 0.9-1.1 1.7

6 Keramati Ghajar North-South 0.9 1.7

7 Rahimae Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

8 Salehian Ghajar North-South 0.9 1.7

9 Shafezade Ghajar North-South 0.9 1.7

10 Emdadi Ghajar North-South 0.9 1.7

11 Khalilzade Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

12 Abazniya Ghajar North-South 0.9 1.7

13 Dadoee Ghajar North-South 1.1 1.7

14 Ehtemami Ghajar East-West 0.9 1.7

15 Khalilian Ghajar East-West 0.9-1.5 1.7

16 Soleymani Ghajar North-South 0.9 1.4

17 Karbasi Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

18 Ossia Ghajar North-South 0.9 1.7

19 Tahmasbi Ghajar East-West 0.9 1.7

20 Ziyaee Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.1 1.7

21 Rashedi Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.2 1.4

22 Khodabakhsh Ghajar North-South 0.9-1.2 1.7

23 Ossia Pahlavi North-South 1.2-2 1.1

24 Falahat Pahlavi North-South 2 1.2

25 Habibzade Pahlavi North-South 2 1.2

26 Azizi Pahlavi East-West 1-1.2 1.2

27 Ossia Pahlavi North-South 1.2-2 1.1-2

28 Shafezade 2 Pahlavi North-South 1 1.2

29 Saghafi Pahlavi North-South 0.9-2 1.2

30 Esfahani Pahlavi North-South 0.9-1.1 1.1

31 Roshan Pahlavi North-South 1.5-2 1.1

32 Zamanlu Pahlavi North-South 1.2 1.1

33 Seraj Pahlavi North-South 1-1.2 1.4

Pahlavi

34 Najafi' and North-South 0.9-2 1.4-1.7

Ghajar

2.3. Function of spaces and adaptive opportunities

Service areas namely, the kitchen, lavatory, and storage are usually detached from the living area. Houses investigated in this research were mostly occupied by extended families where three generations live together under

the same roof. Large houses have private rooms, designated for the grandparents (father and mother in law), parents and guests to sleep at night. Bride's room was a room where the son of the family lives with his wife after marriage. The most comfortable place of the house, which was allocated to elder people to sleep at night, usually was used for family gathering, eating and socializing during the day. Due to using soft furniture in the past, rooms acted as a multi-functional place, serving the occupants as a living room for daily activities during the day and a bedroom for sleeping at night, see Fig 2a. Owing to the usage of soft furniture, which is scattered cushion types, they could easily move to the places that were cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter. In two-story buildings, winter quarter was often on the ground floor with usually no openings or fewer openings to the outside, locating on the northern side of the courtyard. People took advantage of sun penetration to keep the place warm through openings, installed on the southern side of the building. In the first floor, which was usually used during the summer, people gain benefit from the openings, installed on the opposite sides of the room, to get rid of heat and humidity by air circulation. The depth of the plan was usually considered shallow, providing better ventilation in summer and allowing the sunlight travel over the floor space in the winter, due to its lower angle. Floor to ceiling height in winter rooms, located on the grand floor was shorter than summer rooms, situated on the first floor, facilitating to keep the room warm in winter (Table 3). In most cases, the winter quarter could be used in summer especially for elders who preferred to stay on the ground floor. That was possible due to the existence of a thick solid wall that was usually over 0.6 m, causing delay to transfer the heat from outside to the interior spaces in the summer.

Table 4. Floor height and plan depth.

No Name Floor numbers Ground floor height First floor height plan depth

1 Hariri One story 2.7 ---- 5.7

2 Aghajannasab Two story 2.7 3 3.2

3 Ramezani Two story 2.5 2.7 3.5

4 Beykaee Two story 2.35 2.85 7.65

5 Soltani Two story 1.9 3.3 3.7

6 Keramati Two story 2.6 2.7 5.6

7 Rahimae One story 2.7 ---- 3.2

8 Salehian Two story 1.9 2.5 3.7

9 Shafezade Two story 2.7 3.3 5.3

10 Emdadi Two story 2.7 3 4.8

11 Khalilzade Two story 2.7 3 9

12 Abazniya One story 2.7 ---- 6.2

13 Dadoee Two story 2.7 3 5.2

14 Ehtemami One story 3.3 ---- 5.2

*15 Khalilian One story 2.3 3.3 4.6

16 Soleymani One story 3.3 ---- 3.7

17 Karbasi One story 3.8 ---- 6.6

18 Ossia One story 3.3 ---- 3.7

19 Tahmasbi Two story 2.7 3 4.3

20 Ziyaee Two story 1.9 2.5 4.1

21 Rashedi Two story 2.7 3 6.2

22 Khodabakhsh One story 2.5 ---- 4.3

23 Ossia Two story 3 3.2 2.8

24 Falahat Two story 3.2 3.4 4.3

25 Habibzade Two story 3.2 3.4 5

26 Azizi Two story 3.2 3.4 4

27 Ossia Two story 3 3.3 4.7

28 Shafezade 2 Two story 2.7 3.3 4.7

29 Saghafi Two story 3.8 3.8 7

30 Esfahani One story 2.7 ---- 4.6

31 Roshan Two story 3 3.3 4

*32 Zamanlu One story 3 1.9 4.3

*33 Seraj One story 3.7 2.7 6

34 Najafi Two story 4 4 6.2

Note: marked houses are one-story that have different height on different sides.

Kursi is a typical old heater to warm people by natural wood, widely used in winter. On the ground floor of the most buildings investigated in this study, there is a cavity in the middle of the room, which was dug to create a small pit for putting brazier or firewood. Burned charcoal that was made and used during the day for cooking food, at night used as a heating source, transferring to the brazier and was covered with ash. Then it was put directly over the pit, see Fig 2b. Finally, the square table was used above the pit, and it was covered by quilt and blanket to heat people's body when they sat and slept around it, see Fig 2c. In the summer, kursi table and blanket were packed and kept in storage, and the kursi structure was covered with plank wood to make the room capable of using in the summer. The existence of kursi structure in the ground floor of most of these houses strengthens the idea of using the ground floor as winter quarter as it was indicated by the occupants of the houses as well.

Fig. 2. (a) Soft furniture in living area; (b) Kursi structure; (c) Blanket over the wooden table.

The kitchen was located near the living area, usually in the basement or ground floor, to serve the living zone well. It included a place for cooking such as a stove and wooden oven beside a small pond to wash dishes, fruits, and vegetables, see Fig 3a. Kitchen activities most often were extended to the courtyard except for rainy days in winter.

Fig. 3. (a) Kitchen; (b) Clay pot that was buried in the ground; (c) Metal cap.

Courtyard was a planted area with a pool where occupants carried on their daily activities. It was possible through shade that was created by the trees, verandas, terraces and courtyard geometry itself during the summer. However, the solar heat was not fully eliminated in winter. 76% of interviewees indicated that courtyard used by the occupants in the morning and evening during the summer, and the rest used the courtyard whole days. All of them claimed that summer, spring, and autumn was the most preferred season to use the courtyard, while they used it at just sunny days during winter. Occupants of these houses spent most of their time in semi-open areas such as verandas, Ivan, and terraces, where all family members usually eat food, drink afternoon tea and rest. The courtyard also was a guest reception area during ceremonies or parties. It gave the housewives a chance to have private, convenient open living space for their daily chores such as washing the dishes and clothes, preparing food, planting vegetables or communicating with women next door. Almost all of the inhabitants stated that privacy and security are so important to them. The courtyard was also the place of collecting rainwater. Clay pots were used and buried in the ground with a lid on the top above the ground level to prevent dust entering the pot, see Fig 3b. Whenever it was raining, they opened the cap to let the rain water be stored so as to be consumed as for drinking water, see Fig 3c.

2.4. Construction and finishing materials

The construction materials used in the architecture of Babul were obtained locally from the available resources in the surrounding areas. Wood was extensively employed for the main construction and finishing material in this region. Brick was also another particular locally available material used in construction and finishing part and was also used for floor covering in yards mostly in the Ghajar period. Roofs were constructed of fired clay tile that supplied locally, over hanged from all sides by 700mm to 1000 mm in width due to the excessive amount of precipitation. Lime, gypsum, and clay and straw mixture were a common type of materials used for mortar and plaster work.

3. Summary

This paper describes the design characteristics of the case study courtyard houses built during the Pahlavi and Ghajar period in Babul. It is accepted that introverted houses work ideally in the hot and arid climatic region. However, the result of this study suggests that courtyard functions equally well in moderate and humid climatic region through the adaptive behavior of the building owners. The houses abide by what is commonly recognized as good environmental design rule. It includes careful siting of introverted courtyards, Ivans, verandas, backyards, balconies, and basements. The most important climatic issue of the region is the high humidity level. The buildings are primarily oriented to the north-south direction, with selective application of openings on the northern and southern sides of the buildings. In winter, the building occupants took advantage of winter sun penetrating interior

spaces readily from the southern side, due to the buildings shallow plan depth. In the summer, they enjoyed the wind breeze coming from the north with openings on opposite sides, encouraging cross ventilation. Besides, seasonal movement and changes in the usage of living spaces according to the times of the day and season contributed to the establishment of multi-functional spaces, which provided adaptive opportunities for the occupants. There are many similarities and a few distinctive climatic adaptations in the general architecture between the courtyard houses in Babul to those in the hot and arid region. Unlike the courtyard houses located in the central part of Iran, the basement has never been used as living spaces in houses in this city. The basement is usually used as storage or kitchen in houses in this region. Openings to the street were commonly used for the purpose of ventilation that seems to be vital for creating comfort while there is a few opening to the outside houses in the dry region of Iran. The backyard was added to the architecture of courtyard houses in this area to increase the possibility of cross ventilation. Finally, the introverted courtyards, inclusive room functions and openings as well as buildings shallow plan offer opportunity for the houses to serve an adaptive role to suit user's privacy as well as comfort needs throughout the changing hot and cold season.

4. Recommendations

The findings of this study suggest that the plan depth of houses in this region are considered shallow, with proper utilization of openings in both, northern and southern side of the buildings to increase the possibility of cross ventilation. Prevent constructing any wall or partition in such a way to block air circulation within the interior space. Further studies need to be carried out to investigate on thermal status of the houses through physical measurement as well as thermal sensation survey of its occupants to find out whether those houses as their residents claimed are thermally comfortable place to live or not.

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i There are two separate buildings in Najafi house; one belongs to Ghajar period and another belongs to Pahlavi period.