The Windcatchers of Yazd
You cannot find an image of Yazd without a Windcatcher.
Once upon a time, back when people went to their homes from the burning sun and the constant heat of the city, just sitting in the shade or cooling their heads with water was not enough to escape the heat. So they resorted to their intelligence and built a device called “Windcatcher”.
Years passed, the global warming is a threat now, but the tall Windcatchers are still standing and functioning.
They have become a symbol of the architecture of hot and dry climates. The construction of the windcatchers not only made the summer heat of Yazd bearable at that time but also gave an untouched beauty and effect to the city so that Yazd could be called the “The City of Windcatchers.”
A windbreak, a windcatcher, or wind tower is a tall structure with vents on the top of the house to bring wind inside.
The function of the wind deflectors is to direct the outside air to the interior of the building, to cool and create fresh air in it. In addition to the first use of wind deflectors, which was to keep the water in the reservoirs cool, they were also for air conditioning, residential houses, mosques, and other buildings.
The existence of Windcatchers in different sizes and shapes in Iran is due to the diversity of climate in the country, especially in the desert and southern districts.
According to the familiarity of the ancient Iranians with the features of airflow and windmills, we can attribute the invention of Windcatchers to Iranians.
There is no exact information about when was the first wind tower built, but mentioning its name in ancient documents could back up Iranians claim for such and creation.
At first, the construction of windcatchers was more to keep the water of the reservoirs cool. Then, usually, the residents would go down to the water reservoir to cool off. Eventually, they tough Why not build one for the internal parts of the house?
In desert areas of Iran such as Yazd, the sun is hot during the day, and the air is cool at night. It snows and rains little, and the air is dry and has low humidity. Winds blow strongly, and sandstorms happen a lot.
In recent years, people living in these areas have taken steps to cope with this type of climate. For example, they have built houses and other buildings in specific and centralized places, digging long aqueducts to transfer water from mountainous areas into the city.
In Yazd, seasonal and daily winds caused Windcatchers to be in the direction of pleasant, cold, and fast winds from the north (Isfahani wind).
Depending on the sunlight and the direction of the wind, the Windcatchers were one-sided, two-sided, three-sided, four-sided, and even six and eight-sided. Meaning that windcatchers had access to the open air from only one side or more.
Their air ducts were open towards the wind, and the wind came inside the building.
During the airflow process in the building, cool air came in from the windshield, and hot air went out of the doors and windows. The most important feature of a windbreak is cooling the space of the house and air conditioning without using electricity.
In rare cases, in buildings with vast gardens with cool air, the windshield was built in a way so that cool air enters the building through doors and windows, and hot air leaves the Windcatchers.
We can see examples of complete Windcatchers in cities like Abarkuh, Kashan, Kerman, Tabas, and other desert cities of Iran.
Iranian Windcatchers divide into three groups: Yazdi, Ardakani, and Kermani, which we will explain Yazdi in this blog.
Yazdi (four-sided): The height of these types of wind deflectors is usually high, and they are arduous, more complex, and of course, more beautiful in terms of architecture.
This type of windcatcher must capture the ideal wind from all four sides. Over time, the number of the sides increased to six and eight, of which the eight-sided windcatcher in Dowlat Abad Garden of Yazd is one of the most beautiful and tallest in the world.
The eight-sided windbreak of Dowlatabad Garden with 3380 meters above the ground, is one of the high peaks of Yazdi architects.
One of the reasons for the fame of the porch and windbreak of this complex is how it uses wind and water in its cooling system. The air entering through the windshield hovers over a pool full of water, and after getting cool, it goes to the rest of the building.
The room on which the Windcatcher is located has eight sides and has several doors, each of which opens to a room. In this way, to cool each room, the door between that room and the vestibule needed to be opened.
One of the old houses of Abarkuh (Qajar period) has a central courtyard and buildings on three sides.
In this way, residents could use any part that has better weather in different seasons. On the roof of the royal hall of the house and in the form of two floors with a dome roof (pergola), which is unique stands a two-story Windcatcher.
The dome would cool off the roof so the windcatcher wasn’t under the direct sun all time of the day.
Buildings with one to five Windcatchers in Yazd and other places:
Amir Chakhmaq Complex in Yazd (9th century AH), the Zurkhane of Yazd, the small old prayer hall of Yazd (957 AH), the wheat garden of Yazd (981 AH), Taft (989 AH), Mehriz Gate (second half of the century) 10th AH) and the royal gate of Yazd (second half of the 10th century AH).
As a creative invention, Windcatchers play a big role in Yazd as do their Qanat, Kariz, or aquifer. Yazd is considered a world legacy and world heritage by UNESCO.