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 (http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=205750). 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: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/index.shtm

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 (http://www.iiees.ac.ir/). Keep in mind that you are responsible for your building, and negligence and lack of knowledge are not acceptable any more.


فال بنتون

15 03 2009

[by SR] In my eyes, Tehran had never joined the ranks of other big metropolis cities with their “placeless” architecture and new buildings in the style of famous architects, scattered across the world: like say the eye-catching buildings in the financial and shopping districts in NY, London, Tokyo, etc (and Mexico City?  haven’t been… but would be an interesting comparison to Tehran).  Tehran always did its own thing, with residential architecture being the only avenue for architectural expression, and even then, that expression was always mature and subdued, as opposed to the rambunctious and daring designs of big name global architects and their followers.  There have been some forays into global architecture, I guess, in Tehran commercial architecture, but I think they were always a bit disappointing – like the red quasi-pyramidal tower near میدون آرژانتین (Argentine Square) I think – and show more of an identity crisis than architecture in the spirit of global architecture.  Note: I’m not saying that I’m a fan of what I’m calling global architecture… I’m just thinking about its absence in Tehran…, which may very well be a good thing!  Perhaps it was Iran’s economic isolation in the world that had prevented the wave of globalization from dumping on Tehran’s streets a flotsam of anonymous architecture… I’m not quite sure.  Anyhow, a couple weeks ago a couple of friends told me about an architecture competition by Benetton for two office/retail centers in Tehran: http://www.benettongroup.com/designinginteheran/.

I remember, Benetton was always the one high-end western retailer in Tehran since I was a child… I was always baffled by their presence in فرشته (Fereshteh)… what were they doing there when everything else Western (non-industrial sector) was either imported black-market or imitated locally? With their design competition, it looks again, as though they are perhaps reading (or heralding) the future of Tehran as it gradually slips out of its isolation into the global current.  I guess this sort of goes with what I understand to be Iran’s recent (past 5 to 10 year?) relaxing economic policies (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/02/02/090202fa_fact_secor , http://bazardispatch.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-yorkers-article-about-iranian.html).  Read the rest of this entry »

informal settlements in tehran

18 01 2009

[by SR] I am reading a book by a sociology professor about “informal settlements” in Tehran.  It talks about the history and activities of slum dwellers and squatters, hashiehneshinan (حاشیه نشینان), and groups settling in shanty towns (like halabiabad – حلبی آباد) and occupying vacant buildings, and/or informal settlements.  The book is Street Politics: Poor People’s Movements in Iran by Asef Bayat (Columbia University Press, 1997), who interestingly grew up in the informal settlements he writes about.  Read the rest of this entry »

power of colors

29 02 2008

[By Shideh]   On our way to Iran from San Francisco, we stopped in Amsterdam to change planes.  Shawhin and I got our coffee and orange juice (I’m the coffee person and he’s the healthy one) and we were on our way to find the gate for the KLM flight to Tehran.  It turned out finding the gate was much easier than expected.  All we had to do was to follow the large number of familiar eyes who spoke Farsi very loudly.  It’s not common to speak loudly among Iranians, but somehow it seemed like we all wanted to make sure others noticed that we are Iranian, kind of like a signal, a way of communicating, a way to make sure other Iranians see us and can come to us if they are lost or need help of any sort.  

I felt the excitement of going home after 8 years; it was amazing being among all those familiar eyes, familiar accents, familiar smiles, or familiar complaints.  I realized in the middle of my excitement, however, that those eyes and accents were not our only guides to the right gate.  It was something much more visual and obvious: the black clothes!  Sadly I must acknowledge the current trend of fashion among my fellow countrymen.  Black, black, black.  All I could see was black, dark blue, dark gray, dark green, basically all sorts of varieties of black with different shades.  I told Shawhin if he noticed that we were the only ones not wearing black at the gate while we were waiting for our flight.  He laughed and nodded.  I saw that his happy eyes transformed to something more like worried happy eyes.  Well, I did not want to ruin this experience for him so I changed the topic.  I was however deeply concerned about the effects of this color on people’s everyday life back home.  Imagine living in a black city where colors are not widely accepted, are thought to be cheap, or are not even allowed in many public places.  I wonder if anyone in Tehran or other big cities in Iran worries about this, but there I was waiting at the gate deeply struggling with these thoughts and emotions.  I was emotional and excited with the thought of landing at the Mehrabad airport, seeing the Azadi tower when the pilot does a turn around it before landing, kissing the ground of my city, the city that really belonged to me.  My fear of black, on the other hand, was constantly on my mind.  I wanted to get the microphone from the flight attendant and ask all the passengers to change their outfits and wear brighter colors and was frustrated with my lack of power to do so. 


A girl in Sanandaj, Iran, wearing traditional colorful costumes. Photo courtesy of Ddokosic

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مصاحبه دکتر قالیباف، شهردار تهران | FT interview with Tehran mayor

11 01 2008

[By Shawhin]  I just finished reading the transcript from an interview between the Financial Times and current Tehran Mayor, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, published on January 8th, 2008.  There’s a lot of information in the transcript particularly regarding development, urban planning, transportation, etc.  Dr. Qalibaf has been mayor since September 2005 according to Wikipedia. 

I’ve summarized a few points from the article here – these are from quotes from the Mayor:

+        Development in Tehran is handled on three levels:

o       Small projects are handled at the local/neighborhood level: via assisting councils (“shora yaari”,  شورا یاری) – see details below,

o       Medium size projects are handled by the Municipality’s representative offices in 22 zones, and

o       Large projects (i.e. highways, Milad Tower, etc) are done at the national level Read the rest of this entry »

town carved from rock

21 12 2007

A town famous for its beautiful architecture and energy efficiency.  Interesting video on National Geographic about Kandovan:



picture borrowed from: www.Anvari.org

visiting tehran university

21 11 2007

A few photographs of Tehran University, most of which were kindly sent by ‘First Lieutenant’.  Beautiful architecture and an extremely lively and exciting campus, not to mention the very enthusiastic and upbeat students!







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