a summary of the history of urban planning and development in tehran

5 07 2007

[By Shawhin]

In order to better understand development and planning in Tehran, I found it helpful to get a sense of the where Tehran started and how it got to where it is today.  Most of the information in this post is summarized from a paper by A. Madanipour, who is a professor in the department of architecture at NewCastle University.  His paper is titled “Urban Planning and Development in Tehran”.

 This summary list highlights important events in Tehran’s planning/development, chronologically from the past to the present.  All dates are given in CE = AD = ‘milady’:

  • Tehran starts as a village outside the ancient city of Ray
  • 1553  Construction of the city walls (square shaped) and a bazaar in Tehran – the first major planning effort in Tehran
  • 1785 Tehran is selected as the Qajar capital – the city grows from 15,000 inhabitants at the end of the 18th century to about 150,000 by the 1860’s
  • 1868 to 1880 New (octagonal shaped) city walls are built encompassing larger area and more of the new population, new central square, bank, institute of technology, hospital, etc, etc
  • 1910 Municipality set up after Constitutional Revolution of 1906 (“enghelabeh mashrootiat”)
  • 1925 (through 1979) Administrative centralization, development of transportation network, integration of regions into a national market under Pahlavi rule
  • 1930’s Road widening for motor vehicles – destruction of much of historic urban fabric; boulevards built in place of old city walls; major street network developed to support movement of goods, services, military, centralization of power, strengthening of market economy. 

“Embracing the market economy divided the city along lines of income and wealth, while new cultural fault lines emerged along lifestyle and attitude towards tradition and modernity.  Rich and poor, who used to live side by side in the old city, were now separated from one another in a polarizing city.  Moreover, modernizers welcomed living in new neighborhoods … while traditionalists continued to live and work in the older parts of the city.  Ever since, these economic and cultural polarizations – and their associated tensions – have characterized Iran’s urban conditions.” (Madanipour)

  • Tehran grows from 310,000 people in 1932 to 700,000 in 1941
  • Post World War II – urban expansion is based on “under-regulated, private-sector driven, speculative development.”
  • 1956 Tehran grows to 1.5 million inhabitants; and in 1966 to 3 million
  • 1962 Deputy Mayor of Tehran states “the buildings and settlements have been developed by whomever has wanted in whatever way and wherever they have wanted… [where the city was] in fact a number of towns connected to each other in an inappropriate way.”
  • 1966 Municipality Act allows framework for forming the Urban Planning High Counsel… and eventual development of Tehran Comprehensive Plan in 1968, which identifies Tehran’s planning problems (i.e. tehranshake.com of the 60’s!!).
  • 1986 post-revolution population reaches 6 million inhabitants
  • Tehran Comprehensive Plan of 1968 dies in 1991.
  • New plan for 1986-1996 is put together by Iranian consultant consortium “A-Tech”.  A-Tech’s plan was approved in 1993 by the Urban Planning High Counsel but was not in favor with the municipality of Tehran.
  • 1996-2001 Municipality of Tehran produces own strategic plan called Tehran Municipality’s First Plan, or “Tehran 80”
  • Developers allowed to build taller than permitted buildings by paying fines to municipality in what is known as “selling density,”  rapidly changing the face of Tehran, especially in the north
  • Late 1990’s democratic reform brings back elected city council
  • 2001 Tehran Charter published by new council focuses on sustainability and democracy and recognizes Tehran’s big planning problems:
  • Work on a strategic plan continues today

 Just to note: this list is not exhaustive, but gives an outline of developments through today.  Madanipour’s paper gives a lot more insight and develops the plot really well: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V9W-4KYY417-1&_user=10&_coverDate=12%2F31%2F2006&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=33abbfaaa1599c09f68fcbaee242876b

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One response

6 07 2007
Negar

Bachehaa,
I’m not sure if this is exactly relevant to urban planning, but “Jafar Shahri’ Has a number of books about Tehran. It may not be technical, but to learn about Tehran and its history, I think those should be very interesting. (There are references to him on the “Tehran” article in the book “Lost Wisdom”.

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