BakuBuild - Project of the Week: Rainwater-harvesting school, Iran, BMDesign Studios

Project of the Week: Rainwater-harvesting school, Iran, BMDesign Studios



This week we are in Iran, where necessities of the climate have led to a practical and elegant solution – rainwater reservoirs on the roof of a primary school by BMDesign Studios.

The primary school that the Tehran-based studio presented its vision for is located in Jiroft in the Kerman province to the south-east of Iran, where conditions are arid and extremely hot. This is becoming even more so in the country, as climate change and the retreat of bodies of water puts even more pressure on Iran’s drinking water infrastructure. With this in mind, BMDesign wanted to find a way to offset the school’s consumption of water, and this is what they landed on – a collection of wide, low bowls to make sure precious rainwater doesn’t go to waste.


The bowls, spaced at regular intervals around the roof, act as funnels for the rainwater, bringing it to the top of the roof, where the sloping design sends it into holding reservoirs placed between the walls.

This simple solution can have multiple positive effects. The first is obvious – providing drinking water to keep the school running, up to 28 cubic metres as a time according to the architects. The second is a cooling function – as the water is kept just inside the internal structure of the school, this reduces the amount of air conditioning needed and naturally cools the building. Also, the size and position of the bowls maximises the shaded area around the school, increasing the proportion of the site that can be usable during the blazing hot Iranian days. 

The rest of the design is what you would hope for from modern architecture in a hot, dry climate – sunken windows and doors and a courtyard below ground level keep heat build-up to a minimum, and date trees around the site add to the exterior shade.

BMDesign’s work is born out of something inherent in all good architecture – studying the conditions, situation and reality of the site and the proposed building, and delivering a functional and attractive solution to respond to it.