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Iranian townscape and city form, from water-based to oilbased cities

Foroughmand Araabi, Hooman; Khabazi, Maryam; Pourmohamadi, Pariya


Maryam Khabazi

Pariya Pourmohamadi


The development of cities is based on economy in Iran. Water and later oil have been the main economic resources and therefore associated with power. Taking this point of view, this research discusses what traits influenced the form and townscape of some Iranian cities in the past. It includes two parts: the first part, the way the geopolitical situation of Iran valued the water and how the movement of water affected the form of Iranian cities in pre-modern Iran are discussed, and later, how water as an influencein the formation of the city was replaced by oil after industrialisation and discovery of oil. The process of deterritorialisation of water and consequently reterritorialisation of oil can be distinguished through previous discussions, with two distinct examples of water-based city, Isfahan (Isfahan) and oil-based city, Abadan. In the second part, historic constructions and their original and current usage are introduced, like some water systems that were exploited in pre-modern Iran such as Qanat (subterranean
aqueducts), Yakhchal, Abanbar, Badgir (Wind Catcher), and madi, that shaped the townscape and skyline of Iranian cities and how they worked and were used. The paper is concluded by discussing how aquatic constructions lost their meaning and function and either were destroyed or turned into tourist sites after the emergence of oil is concluded. In fact, with the emergence of oil based cities many vernacular types of urban infrastructure
ceased to exist and the criteria for locating cities considerably changed. Thus, oil discovery caused a quasi-revolution in Iranian cities’ form and location.


cities. Presented at International conference urban change in Iran

Presentation Conference Type Speech
Conference Name International conference urban change in Iran
Start Date Nov 1, 2012
End Date Nov 1, 2012
Acceptance Date Nov 12, 2012
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Iranian townscape, city form, water-based, oilbased cities
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : URBAN CHANGE IN IRAN