Nestled into the steep slope of a mountain, this remarkable thousand-year-old village in northern Iran has evolved an unusual approach to open space: its rooftops double as public lanes and gathering places. Producer Kurt Kohlstedt Image of road entering town and joining roof by Hoomanb (CC BY 2.5)
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At an elevation of nearly 3,500 feet, Masuleh sits high in the Alborz mountain range on a 60-degree incline. It was originally developed around an iron mine and became a hub for the ironwork industry. Architectural detail and staircase with ramp mod, image by Petr Adam Dohnálek (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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Stepping out of a building may mean walking onto a narrow stretch of rock, but in many cases leads straight to a rooftop. These serve as public walkways and plazas linked by narrow allies and staircases. Village at night, image by Parastoo.Atrsaei (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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In many respects, it’s a city planner’s paradise — a place where roof surfaces are fully used and integrated, and no space is wasted. Another appealing prospect to many urbanists: no cars are allowed, as these would strain the structural limits of supporting architecture. “In its interconnectedness,” writes Zoya Gul Hasan, “it is reminiscent of the maze-like rooftops of the old town of Ghadames in northwestern Libya, but unlike Ghadames, the rooftops in Masuleh play an integral role in community interaction and friendly cohabitation.” --- --- ...