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Assessing the effective resources of urban designing in Iran, based on the localization approach

Foroughmand Araabi, Hooman; Khabazi, Maryam; Foroughmand Araabi, Hooshang


Maryam Khabazi

Hooshang Foroughmand Araabi


Urban design, like any other branch of the social sciences and built-environment studies, has developed in relation with the contexts in which it has emerged. Built environments in Iran have been constructed in a different way compared to their European and American counterparts. Western urban environments and cultures are the main sources of urban design knowledge. In turn, the knowledge replicates such environments and advocates such values. Nevertheless, the differences between Iranian context and the Western one is the main reason necessitating the attempt to create vernacular knowledge for Iran. At this point after urban design being introduced, taught and researched in Iran for decades, it is significant to analyze the success or failure of vernacular theories. In this respect, this article first critically reviews the literature in order to make a framework to evaluate various urban design texts. Second it assesses the influential urban design texts that have attempted to adapt the Western knowledge to the context of Iranian cities. The assumption of this article is that vernacular theories are more capable of creating successful places and fulfilling needs and demands of the society. In this respect, criticizing and analyzing texts that aimed at making vernacular knowledge paves the way for further attempts in both theory and practice. The main references of this article are from two seemingly discrete domains. First the texts which discuss and introduce the characteristics of successful urban design theory. We assume that vernacular urban design theory is a kind of theory belonging to the broader domain of urban design thinking, it must meet the criteria of successful urban design theory. The second set of references are from texts that are particularly studying the characteristics of successful vernacular theory. Many studies, from countries that imported the knowledge, have attempt to clarify such characteristics under various titles. However, there is not any study on this topic in Iran. Therefore, this article offers contributions to the literature. The urban design texts that have vernacular aspects are being analyzed on the basis of three main criteria of analyzing theory and two specific criteria of analyzing vernacular theory. The main criteria of a good theory are: 1. The way of building a theory should be justifiable. Clarifying such processes would enable further revisions when required and justify the theory; 2. The theory should have practical applications; since the goal of urban design is making better places the theory within this field should ultimately have practical influences 3. A theory should learn from the past urban design experiences; Ignoring the existing body of knowledge is certainly a disadvantage for any research or theory. Two specific criteria of analyzing vernacular theory discussed in this article are that 1. The theory should respond to the specific problems of Iranian cities; meaning a so-called vernacular theory should aimed at solving vernacular problems. Inevitably such a theory, first of all, needs to have a good understanding of urban problems in Iran. The second requirement for its criterion is to have a realistic assessment of the potentials and abilities in Iran (including academic potentials) 2. The theory should consider the cultural and vernacular values and norms. This means that solutions suggested by the vernacular theories should be defined in a way to lessen the gap between culturally accepted values and the existing condition. This criterion develops the fact that urban design is always and necessarily value-laden and a good vernacular theory must represent local values. Therefore, three key urban design texts that are basically written for Iran and have been successfully received by the professionals are being examined against the mentioned criteria. These titles are achieved through a systematic review of the literature while it can be seen as representatives of successful urban design texts written by Iranian urban design scholars for the Iranian cities. The results of this article display that the Iranian theorists have paid attention to the necessity of vernacular theories as all the three writers touched upon this issue.. The vague process of making vernacular theory, fails to take the local values into account, and the weak linkage between the available knowledge and case studies have deteriorated the effectiveness of the attempts of making vernacular urban design in Iran. This article adds that vernacularizing urban design must also be aware of similar attempts in different fields. This article makes the contribution to the literature by highlighting the importance of the topic for future research as well as offering the set of criteria for good vernacular urban design theory that can be used in order to systematically develop the knowledge. Moreover, the evaluation of the three influential texts in the final part of this article aims to find strengths and weaknesses of the existing literature. Keywords: City, Accessibility, Commute Mode, Babolsar City.


Foroughmand Araabi, H., Khabazi, M., & Foroughmand Araabi, H. (2017). Assessing the effective resources of urban designing in Iran, based on the localization approach

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 24, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 1, 2017
Publication Date Dec 1, 2017
Journal Armanshahr
Print ISSN 2538-2365
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 17
Pages 263-271
Keywords assessing, effective resources, urban designing, Iran, localization approach
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