The Sabat: An Expression of Art and Architecture in Iranian Society

By Saleheh Bokharaei and Mahmood Khalili.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 4, 2014 $US5.00

When we pass through the lanes in the old cities located on the brim of Iranian Kavir, which has a hot and arid climate, we come across a spatial element called the “sabat.” The sabat is a roofed lane and a porch passage with multi-functional roles. It provides a natural cooling system via shade and creates a microclimate environment, unifying and solidifying old city infrastructures. Sabats also play an important role in a social-cultural context by creating gathering places for local residents, which impacts the sense of belonging and congeniality within a community. The sabat, which is one of the sustainable elements of traditional Iranian architecture, uses available materials and existing resources to create a sense of proportionality, provoking artistic and aesthetic beauty while helping to align lateral forces against the wind flow and sun ray direction. Sabats also integrate environmental and climatic parameters into urban design, enhancing the comfort and harmony with nature within the space. Moreover, it combines light and shade in the passageways to create both warmth and coolness, resulting in a positive effect on the tranquility of pedestrians passing through the space. This essay will analyze the multi-faceted dimensions of the sabat in Iran’s traditional communities to specify what has made it one of the main artistic elements in urban open spaces in hot and arid climates. Furthermore, this article proceeds to define the sabat’s climatic and structural stance, form typology, artistic and symbolic components, as well as its impacts on culture, society, and security. To explore sabats, we will turn to a Kohandez passageway in the fabric of Semanan.

Keywords: Sabat, Art, Society, Salt Desert, Iran, Aesthetics

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.1-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.113MB)).

Saleheh Bokharaei

Ph.D Candidate and Visiting Professor, Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Bokharaei is a doctoral student in architecture at Shahid Beheshti University, where she has researched historical and cultural fabrics in relation to their affective meanings in architectural environments. She received a master’s degree from Shahid Beheshti University, and has acted as a visiting lecturer at the aforementioned university as well as Soreh University. Bokharaei has won awards in several architectural design competitions.

Mahmood Khalili

Architect and Cheif of Atelier, Department of Architecture, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Khalili obtained a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Shahid Beheshti University, where he researched the stance of landscape architecture in the life of historical and cultural fabrics. He is the manager of Nazarghah Noor Consulting Engineers Corporation and has won several architectural design competitions.