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Take a look inside Tehran's transformer house

By Matthew Ponsford, for CNN
updated 10:58 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
The seven-floor Sharifi-ha in Tehran is the award-nominated creation of locally based designers Next One. The seven-floor Sharifi-ha in Tehran is the award-nominated creation of locally based designers Next One.
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Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Architects in Rian have design a house with rotating rooms
  • Sharifi-ha has three rooms that can open in summer and close in winter
  • The design is inspired by traditional Iranian houses that have different living rooms for the two seasons

(CNN) -- It's the townhouse that twists like a Rubik's cube, to bask in the summer sun and shield itself when winter bites.

Welcome to the transforming Sharifi-ha House in Tehran, Iran, where a normally static facade has been replaced by an adaptable, modular living space.

Not content with luxury touches including a swimming pool, gym and cinema space, the seven-floor mansion has been designed to incorporate three rotating blocks that turn 90 degrees and transform the interior and exterior space.

The design was grounded in need rather than luxury, say Tehran-based studio Next Office, the architects behind the new building.

The design is inspired by traditional Iranian houses.
Courtesy Next Office

Temperatures in Iran can rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or plummet well below freezing. Traditional Iranian houses cope with these extremes by incorporating an airy living room for summer and a separate, cosy living room for winter months.

In the Sharifi-ha -- meaning Sharif's house, after its owner --rooms are transformed at the touch of a button.

In the "open" mode, the three blocks pivot outwards on their rotating base, pointing the windowed ends to the sun, which also creates a terrace on each floor.

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"Closed" mode hides the windows to keep the house warm during Tehran's snowy winters.

The original design -- which Alireza Taghaboni, lead designer at Next Office, claims also references traditional Iranian houses -- has earned the firm a nomination at the World Architecture Festival Awards.

Inside the house, two basement floors provide fitness facilities and "wellness areas," explains Taghaboni. Above a ground floor garage space and living quarters for a housekeeper, the top four floors comprise the home's communal areas. The two lowest moving "blocks" form a breakfast room and guest bedroom, while the upper block will be an office.

Creating the rooms to turn on demand was no easy feat, say the architects. They puzzled over the interior handrails -- eventually redesigning them to fold as the rooms rotated.

An innovative water pool ceiling allows dappled light down to the lower levels.
Parham Taghioff

The turning mechanism for the rooms was, they say, the least of their worries -- the mechanical bases were already in use elsewhere -- as rotating sets in theaters or platforms for cars in showrooms.

For the World Architecture Festival Award, the building will now go up against Vietnamese houses styled to become live-in plant pots, a concrete beach hut in Australia designed to withstand northern Queensland's tropical storms, and a Mexican villa that rises tree-like out of above its surrounding vegetation.

See also: London's insane luxury basements

See also: Who invests the most in global property?

See also: Micro-homes offer big solutions

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