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Welcome to the transforming Sharifi-ha House in Tehran, Iran, where a normally static facade has been replaced by an adaptable, modular living space.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, says Tehran-based studio Next Office, the architecture firm behind the new building.
1/14 – Sharifi-ha: The transforming house
The seven-floor Sharifi-ha in Tehran is the award-nominated creation of locally based designers Next One. Credit: Salar Motahari
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.
But 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. "Closed" mode hides the windows to keep the house warm during Tehran's snowy winters.
The design -- which Alireza Taghaboni, the lead designer at Next Office, claims also references traditional Iranian houses -- earned the firm awards in Iran and in Dubai as well as a nomination at the 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards.
It's functionality also seeks to reflect the discrete nature of Iranian society. "I think privacy is a very important thing for Iranian people," Taghaboni says. "The question is how much freedom, how much openness with others, how much we can connect with the city?"
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.
The adaptable facace of the Sharifi-ha House in Tehran, Iran. Credit: Parham Taghioff
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.
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.
"In all of our projects we want to do something radical something that has a great and powerful concept," Taghaboni explained.
With all the attention and accolades that have come the way of the Sharifi-ha House, that mission has certainly been accomplished.
A swimming pool at the Sharifi-ha House in Tehran, Iran. Credit: Majid Jahangiri