In the heartland of Iran adjacent to the great Maranjab Desert and the Salt Lake sits the historic city of Kashan. With archaeological sites dating back 8000 years and world-renowned for its glazed ceramics and textile arts, today it is also a veritable treasure trove of historic houses. The restoration and renovation of this 140-year-old historic house --with its introverted garden courtyards on three levels, covering over 1000 square meters of closed, semi-closed and open spaces constantly flowing into one another-- reconciles the past with the present. Designed as the residency of a heritage NGO and its research institute whose aim is to help protect, preserve, and promote historic cities while imbuing them with contemporary relevance, the design juxtaposes age-old traditions of Iranian architecture and crafts with those of cutting-edge contemporary materials, details, and techniques. Programmed to house the institute’s offices, the guest rooms, and living amenities, the once dilapidated and partially collapsed building has been brought back to life by rebuilding the demolished spaces as they appeared before, using the same natural, breathable materials of mud-bricks, stucco and wood. In subterranean spaces with organically carved earthen walls and ceilings, daring interventions create new layers of skin, in places exposing the original historic structure. Complex decorative patterns used in traditional stucco, wood and mirror-mosaic designs have been exquisitely cut in pared-down motifs, giving the ornamentation an instant contemporary feel. The former stables of the house have been converted into a modern extension with industrial glass and metal additions, also showcasing an unusual interpretation of the Persian garden in an asymmetrical layout. This design approach has infused the spirit of the house with a compelling contemporary edge, manifesting the idea that historic places are not irrelevant relics of the past, but brimming with the potential of a vibrant life today.