Planning Documents and Deconstructing Traditional Neighbourhood Structures in Iran: The Formation and Evolution of Kuy-e Chaharsad-Dastgah

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This article discusses the transformation of the traditional Iranian courtyard house type and neighbourhood structure in Iran, and focuses on the design of public housing in the country’s early years of modernisation, after the second World War. It explores how (urban) legislations enacted by Iranian reformists and urban planning documents contributed to change the image of urban areas and the everyday life of Iranians, particularly in Tehran. While providing a short overview of these changes, this article discusses how urban planning documents were used as a tool for transforming the ideal form of living, the courtyard-garden house (Khaneh-Bagh). It shows how the transformation of this house type became an instrument of both accommodating change and resistance in terms of local customs and habits, in Kuy-e Chaharsad-Dastgah, built between 1946 and 1950 in Tehran. To illustrate these, the article relies on previous studies, and analyses the design and development of this experimental housing project in details through plan analysis that focuses on the documentation, redrawing, and typological deconstruction of the project, combined with the outcome of a site survey in the housing district and interviews conducted with some of its current dwellers. This methodological approach is crucial to demonstrate how this housing project was developed, based on a ‘planning document’ revised by a group of Iranian architects in the early-1940s, and transformed over time. It is argued that the dual characteristic of the Iranian courtyard house was instrumental to accommodate constant growth and change in this housing project, in the past 70 years. Investigating the evolution of Kuy-e Chaharsad-Dastgah, thus, unravels the extent to which incorporating private and collective courtyards in the design of large-scale housing would cater for a strong feeling of belonging to the place, among the dwellers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Housing and the Built Environment
Publication statusIn preparation - 2019


  • Courtyard house
  • Everyday life
  • Iran
  • Non-Western modernisation
  • Public housing
  • Tehran

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