mood of tehran on a hot summer day

7 06 2010

It’s early in the morning; the city is awake. I meet friends to go hiking in “Daar Abaad” and enjoy the glorious mountains and waterfalls of north Tehran. We walk through the cold rivers and let the waterfalls run from our heads to the toes. How incredibly cold the water is and how good it feels! My clothes are all wet and how I enjoy the feeling. Alborz is sacred. People smile and say “khasteh nabaasheed” to us as they pass by. This is an unlikely scene in the chaos of the city. The best part is delicious Omelets in a traditional tea house after a few hours of hiking. Fresh bread with plain omelet made of eggs and tomatoes; and yes, there is always hot tea available. It’s almost noon when we return.

Walking slowly through the few remaining “koocheh baagh’s” of Tehran in Maghsood Beig in the afternoon, I inhale the air with greed and pleasure. Gardens are so rapidly disappearing here and are being replaced by tall buildings that seem to have nothing to do with one another or their surrounding nature. Many days of raining has clearly made an impact on the air and the mood of fellow Tehranies. I pass through Doctor Hessabi’s house and see a beautiful garden with a gorgeous old building in the middle, which is now a famous café with art galleries (café baagh e mouzeh). There is a long waiting list for out-door seating. Read the rest of this entry »

leaving tehran a solution?

13 04 2010

I received an email this morning, which may be a common question and the answer may be of interest to other Tehranies, especially as we are having many earthquakes around the world lately:


Email from Ms. XX:

Dear Shideh & Shawhin,

I was surfing internet to find information on Tehran earthquake and came across to your weblog. As a solution President announced that 5 million people should leave Tehran enabling his government to control the aftermath of Tehran earthquake.

Read the rest of this entry »

bikes on tehran’s streets

19 02 2010

Tehran’s municipality has established a bicycle venue “in one district of the city as part of an experimental program to help ease traffic congestion, improve air quality and cater to the desires of increasingly health- and fitness-oriented Iranians.” I have always admired similar programs in European cities (e.g., Paris, Barcelona, etc.), but never thought Tehran’s landscape and culture was bike friendly. I was wrong:

lessons from the tragedy in haiti

27 01 2010

[By SD]   I went to a very interesting seminar yesterday at Berkeley on the preliminary reconnaissance of the tragic Haiti Earthquake. You can watch the entire webcast on:

You can find the photo collection of the speaker (Eduardo Fierro) at:

My overall impression was that:

1) This disaster was tragic, but unfortunately not unique. Similar to many developing countries, the tragedy was not caused by the earthquake, but by bad construction and related policies

2) We, as engineers, can help Haiti through grassroots actions, organizations, and networks, such as Build Change or GeoHazard International Read the rest of this entry »

our proposed uRespond concept sketches for the “random hacks of kindness” event

7 11 2009
URespond advisor's presentation.006-001

simple rapid user input

URespond advisor's presentation.007-001

mapping of local user updates

current emergency response protocol

Read the rest of this entry »

next five important earthquakes

20 10 2009

Interesting article in Time today:,28804,1930622_1930614_1930606,00.html

Next five major (important) earthquakes expected to occur in: Los Angeles, Tokyo, Tehran, Pacific Northwest, Indonesia

“All of Iran lies within a major earthquake zone, and the country has suffered terrible temblors before — most recently in 2003, when a 6.8-magnitude quake leveled the ancient city of Bam and killed more than 30,000 people. But a similar quake in the congested capital of Tehran — where more than 7 million people live — would be a shattering catastrophe. Unlike building codes in other endangered cities such as San Francisco and Tokyo, Tehran’s are relatively lax, and many residents like in the sort of unreinforced-concrete houses that turn into death traps in the event of a strong quake. The Iranian Health Ministry once estimated that a 7-magnitude quake would destroy 90% of the city’s hospitals. Tehran is so threatened that there has been periodic talk about moving the capital.” — Time, Oct. 20th, 2009

tehran’s minor earthquake on saturday

19 10 2009

Tehran experienced a minor earthquake (Richter magnitude 4) on Saturday at 2:23 pm local time ( It seems that most Tehranies felt this shake. There is now a widespread fear of aftershocks and possibly bigger earthquakes due to more activities on the Eivanaki fault in southeast Tehran. Since information on the historical activity of this fault seems to be limited, it is difficult to make accurate probabilistic predictions on the likelihood of an aftershock. But it is certainly possible and quite likely to have another earthquake soon (not necessarily related to this particular fault movement). Tehran sits on major active faults and suffers from a large seismic risk due to fault activity, poor construction practice, and large population. The occurance of this recent minor earthquake may have influenced the stresses in the surrounding faults and might have increased the existing seismic risk facing Tehran.

 tehran map

Tehrani residents, engineers, contractors, general public, please be aware and pay attention to this important risk that you will have to deal with sooner or later. To learn how to protect yourself before, during, and after an earthquake, visit this site by FEMA:

In two of our previous posts, we also had some good discussion on earthquake preparedness in Tehran:

Tehrani engineers, architects, and contractors: I assume that you already know how to make earthquake resistant structures in a cost-effective way. If you have questions/concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will try my best to send you information on the current state of practice (in structural and geotechnical design) for your specific project. If you are not convinced about the risks facing your city and need more information on the probability of earthquakes in the coming years, also please don’t hesitate to let me know or contact someone at IIEES in Tehran ( Keep in mind that you are responsible for your building, and negligence and lack of knowledge are not acceptable any more.


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