AbstractThe mud-brick or adobe structures that have remained from the 2003 Bam earthquake were studied in this article. One of earth’s weaknesses as a building material is its low ductility, which leads to problems in seismic performance and requires the application of less material-dependent techniques to increase their seismic resistance. The application of architectural design principles leads to a less material-dependent approach to seismic resistance. The architectural design criteria to improve seismic performance, that is, site selection, neighboring, plan, elevation, openings configuration, building height and weight, and weight distribution, is discussed in the literature. The grounded theory research method was applied to classify and analyze the qualitative data that were gathered through field observations after the 2003 Bam earthquake. The use of the architectural principles enabled architects to improve the seismic performance of the mud-brick structures. The architectural principles discussed are the base and foundations, backing, height, geometry, and continuity of the perpendicular axes. A structure’s bearing walls that are backed by other elements, which include natural earth in underground bearing walls, had a great effect on the stability of the roof and walls during a seismic event.