Inhabitable Walls of Paradise: The Embodiment of Cultural Identity in the Spatial Configuration of Large-Scale Housing

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


    Such as many non-western countries during the 20th century and particularly after the second World War, Iran underwent a unique process of modernisation, due to its non-colonised past among the other Middle-Eastern countries. For creating a modern nation that made Iran a part of the civilized world, the government diffused the notion of modern living through mass housing construction largely carried out by European-trained Iranian architects. Creating cross-cultural exchanges, they played the mediator role between the International Style and Iranian culture. In contract to the colonised countries in the middle-east where were largely laboratories for western architects, the Iranian architects had the power of execution to practise embodying an indigenous version of modernism. They helped the Iranian government to purse the objectives of the developments plans through the design and realisation of mass housing projects.
    To go along with global modernisation, between 1948 and 1998 the Iranian Plan Organisation prepared a series of development plans, by which public housing for the middle- and low-income families got a prominent place. Each planning
    was a reflection of national and international socio-political and economic conditions at the time, and a result of demographic change in Iran to respond to the rapid urbanisation and growth of population density in cities. Accordingly,
    each development plan led to a series of public housing projects in urban areas, among which Kuy-e Narmak (1951-58), Kuy-e Kan (1958-64), Kuy-e Farah (1961-66), Ekbatan (1968-98), Shushtar-e Nou (1974-85), and Navab (1992-2002) played a prototypical role, and later became models of modern urbanism and heritage of modern housing in Iran.
    Studying and analysing these case studies’ urban form and development reveal how the concept of modernism and vernacular were tied together, how local culture and society were addressed, how every-day life of inhabitants and their everchanging needs were reflected and met, how population density influenced urban forms and how resilient they are, how the desire of being a part of the modern world was reflected, what local elements and archetypes were used, what cultures and models were imported to the Iranian context, and etc. Understanding the development of these models demonstrates
    whether the process of modernisation in non-western country such as Iran through public housing presents a sense of continuity in the structure, meaning, character and identity of place, or generates a sense of disjuncture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2016
    EventArchitecture Research Moments: ARENA - KU Leuven, faculty of architecture, Brussel, Belgium
    Duration: 29 Jan 201630 Jan 2016
    Conference number: 3rd


    ConferenceArchitecture Research Moments
    Abbreviated titleARM
    Internet address


    • non-western modernisation
    • local culture
    • mass housing
    • urban form
    • resilience

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