ZAV Architects-Habitat for Orphan Girls-Main Photo-Photo By Aidin Gilandoost

Winner spotlight: Habitat for Orphan Girls

Jo Smit
03 Dec 2018

ZAV Architects’ design for housing for orphan girls in Khansar, in Iran, was a project that called for the utmost sensitivity and imagination. The architect’s thoughtful response is the Habitat for Orphan Girls, a building that has been rewarded with a string of awards for its simple beauty. Last month its quality was recognised once again when it won the Affordable Housing Award in the prestigious World Architecture News Awards 2018.

The project provides shelter for orphan girls in a challenging context. The building’s distinctive balconies, with their fabric covers, provide a solution to one of these challenges. Under Iranian law, women are required to wear the hijab, or head covering, when outdoors. The architect has equipped the building’s balconies with covers, which can be pulled down to produce a protected space where the girls are able to remove the hijab.


With its curving orange roof, the building’s design has echoes of an umbrella, and all its associations of shelter. The project budget was modest, necessitating simple construction materials and techniques. The building is constructed from robust brick, and includes no joinery, an omission that helped to make the build quicker and easier.


The architect has turned this all to advantage, noted the judges. “The limited palette and raw aesthetic appear to sit comfortably in their context, while a series of beautiful interior spaces are provided within,” they said. “This project demonstrates what can be achieved with a limited budget through good design.”


Habitat for Orphan Girls is among an international line-up of projects celebrated in the WAN Awards 2018, which took place in London before a global audience of architects and industry leaders. The awards highlight excellence in current and future projects, as well as the application of new technologies and architecture’s rising stars.


The full list of winners of the WAN Awards 2018 is here.

Key Facts

Affordable Housing
2018 Winner

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