an organic and hand-made observatory is surrounded by palm trees in the iranian desert

an organic and hand-made observatory is surrounded by palm trees in the iranian desert


in the last days of winter, the contemporary architects association of iran spend days in the harsh winter weather creating an observatory in the desert of esfahak, iranthe observatory is comprised of three circles within each other — the center-most circle is the highest one, ‘reaching for the sky’, and the two other circles encompass a single person passageway that leads to the center. the foundation of the brick structure is joined together using mortar, some of which was mixed with the members’ bare feet, where once clean and ironed shirts are soon covered in dirt.

the observatory offers a place of seclusion to appreciate the surrounding environment



additionally, the contemporary architects association fell victim of their own design while making the observatory — by building it inside-out, they were enclosed in a circular space where they were closed off to the external world. the firm uses a 45 degree rotation for every adobe brick measuring 2 cm x 2 cm and 0,5 cm thick. 

the structure uses a 45 degree rotation for every adobe brick



the desert observatory garnered a great deal of local attention while in construction — esfahak locals sometimes helped out by handing the builders bricks and even refreshing snacks like fresh spring almonds and tea. ‘the greens that we had, the lunches, the short afternoon naps, the tea, the laughter, the joy of discovering each other and ourselves.’ explains a member of the frim, ‘they all were needed just as much as the adobe bricks and mortar to build the observatory. just as involved in the process.’

a rainbow casts above the desert observatory


observatory in the desert
video © pouya khazaeli

the observatory under the starry night

the foundation of the structure is joined together using mortar

an overview of the location

details of the observatory

the designers are a group from montréal, london, tehran, kerman and mashhad

an aerial view of the observatory’s location



project info:


project: observatory in the desert
architects: amirali zinati / behnaz motarjem/ aidin emdadian / sonia beygi/ bahar mehdi pour/ hamidreza malek khani/ ramtin ramezani
consultant: pouya khazaeli
local partners: mohsen mehdizadeh/ mostafa yaghoubi/ hosein bagheri/ mehdi hoseini
comrades: pouyan moghadam/ elaheh azarnoush/ sara tabaraei
text: behnaz motarjem
photographs: anis eshraghi
association: contemporary architects association caa
location: esfahk, southern khorasan, iran
footprint area: 69 sqm
total cost: $1500
date: march 2017



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

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