Given the illegal demolition of an old house located on the site, the excavation operation in the vicinity of the Safavid Saint Mary Church was particularly complicated.
The lateral bracing of the church along with the foundation preparation prevented any damage to the dome. Although the implementation of concrete systems in buildings of such scale in Isfahan is both common and economical, a nuts-and-bolts steel skeleton was utilized with composite galvanized roof aiming at enhancing the progress rate and accuracy of the project implementation.
The brick coating of the structure was based on the texture and color of the dome, applied through state-of-the-art construction adhesive materials.
The brick geometric details and proportions of the openings were observed by the executive contractors who benefited from the precise map of brick arrangement. This was the only strategy available for producing brick lattice details when highly skilled masonry architects were not at disposal. Moreover, the adoption of a domestic model for the central courtyard in the entire complex according to the climate of Isfahan has prevented any energy dissipation due to air conditioning.
The texture of Iranian desert cities comprises a complicated network of roads, squares, markets, mosques, houses, etc. inspired by the climate and soil qualities over time, which has been adapted to the social life of different generations as well as cultural, social and economic changes.
The architectural style of every single building pursues the development of urban spaces, where the void space and stream of life overshadow the mass and volume of the architecture.
The diverse structures of urban spaces, whether open or closed, tight or wide, and linear or central, form a melting pot for intricate social events. In such an organic system, the sudden changes, urban lifestyles and new functions have not discovered the ideal textural model, while the streets with heavy traffic, crowded shopping malls, offices, etc. have fragmented the urban texture.
Domes, minarets and trees that once demarcated the urban skyline within the urban spaces have been erased from the city landscape through the network structures of modern urban construction.
In the wake of urban expansion, squares, passages and neighborhoods have been replaced with narrow sidewalks along car-jammed streets, and the urban open spaces as places of social interaction have turned into commercial malls and buildings derived from foreign, exotic models.
The project site proposed to us is situated where several houses from the Safavid era had been demolished and replaced with a newly constructed street with commercial function. The idea behind restoring the church dome was inspired by an old square called Julfa in the vicinity of the site, which aligned the urban open courtyard with the center of the dome. Therefore, an opportunity was provided to progress from architectural scale toward urban design scale through a continuous walk toward the internal square as the dome stood across the city skyline. The economic feasibility of the project was enhanced by proposing the garden pit model, where plants, water and shades prepared a cool public space at the site.
Despite the application of low-cost materials, the quality of open space boosted the economic value of the structure, while the expansion of a luxurious commercial center and economic success of the project managed to introduce a new model of investment for commercial projects with similar texture.