A collection of multi-hued rammed-earth-and-sand domes may have officially established Hormuz as “Rainbow Island” — the nickname of the Persian Gulf community, home to 6,500 inhabitants, that has long been enjoyed for its unusually radiant landscape coloured by ochre clay. Designed by ZAV Architects, these architectural outcroppings began appearing when Tehran gallery owner Ehsan Rasoulof partnered with Sormeh Art Group, which organizes an annual land art event on the island, to initiate a conversation about how to effect positive change and development there.
“Our visions intersected in Hormuz,” say the architects, who had been working on a regeneration scenario elsewhere, “and resulted in a process, rather than a project, that we call Presence in Hormuz.” This undertaking has culminated in three phases of buildings, part of a larger enterprise that seeks to connect tourists with locals more meaningfully, allowing islanders access to new economic opportunities while protecting their homeland’s fragile ecosystem and bolstering its culture.
Comprising 200 interconnected domes on a 10,300-square-metre site, the recently completed Majara residence (the project’s second phase) is meant for mostly temporary stay; it features 17 suites, as well as domes dedicated to public functions: cafés and restaurants, a gallery, a prayer room, and administration and service spaces.
“It borrows familiar forms and colours from its natural and human environment,” says ZAV, “specifically, the traditional water storage structures called ab anbar, to seem novel and familiar at the same time.” An all-women team of interior architects — Taraneh Behboud, Sara Nikkar and Sara Jafari — designed the similarly bold interiors. The furnishings were produced by the Shiraz-based brand Neshiman, while others were crafted by local artisans, many of whom are also women.
As noble as these finer points are, the bigger picture is even more ambitious. “A major goal is to facilitate the development of basic infrastructure, such as the construction of a hospital and other urban amenities,” say the architects. “This will make the island a better place to live for its inhabitants.”
In the Persian Gulf, the Iranian studio adds the striking Majara residences to its ongoing project Presence in Hormuz.