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Along the coast of Hormuz Island, Iran, is a striking visual: a string of brightly colored domes, standing in stark contrast against the sandy gulf.

This colorful architecture, entitled “Presence in Hormuz,” is the work of ZAV Architects. They combined their appreciation for the beauty of the Persian Gulf with their desire to empower the local community, resulting in these beautifully colored urban developments.

Presence in Hormuz on Hormuz Island, Iran.
ZAV Architects

The designs of these domes are based on the “superadobe” technique of Iranian architect Nader Khalili. The architects wanted the buildings to feel at one with the earth below, so they were inspired by nearby resources and the local topography.

The island influenced nearly every detail of the construction. The domes themselves are built from stacked sandbags filled with nearby soil, sand, and gravel, while the carpets are woven with knots inspired by the varying ecologies of the island.

Presence in Hormuz from the shoreline.
ZAV Architects

Even the colors of the domes are inspired by the local community.

“The island has outstanding colorful surreal landscapes,” the architects explain, and the vibrant reds, greens, yellows, and blues of the domes are meant to honor that. And while the cluster of colorful domes is beautiful from the outside, the inside is no different. The color schemes are the same, and the walls and furniture reflect the same energizing aesthetic.

Interior of a dome at Presence in Hormuz.
ZAV Architects

While they are visually stunning, the main goal with these domes was to involve the local community. Their design and scale make it easy for both local craftsmen and untrained workers to participate in the construction.

These domes were also designed to emulate already familiar structures within the region in order to make the construction process even more understandable. This project was about more than just looking nice; it was also about engaging the members of the community and stimulating the local economy.

Aerial view of Presence in Hormuz.
ZAV Architects

“Presence in Hormuz” is home to dining, stores, laundry accommodations, prayer centers, and even houses. By considering the community’s needs every step of the way, ZAV Architects ended up with beautiful and useful structures, serving as both a reflection of the community and a resource moving forward.

Presence in Hormuz.
ZAV Architects
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