Recognition and Evaluation of Identity Formation Process in New Towns: (The Case Study of Hashtgerd New Town, Iran)



This research considers the recognition and evaluation of Identity Formation Process in New Towns, with special reference to Hashtgerd New Town in Iran, located in some 65 kilometers distance on the west of Tehran, the capital. The construction of Hashtgerd New Town and people settlement was started in more than 15 years ago. The concept of city identity, its divisions and elements, explanation of the new towns identity formation process, and its related criteria are considered. The conceptual frameworks of these issues are also discussed. The research also provides a framework based on six key criteria for recognition and evaluation of the identity formation process in new towns. The findings of the study show that, the process of identity formation is founded on the basis of continuous interaction between Society and Environment over time. This process is related to various factors and influenced by them, including legibility and personification, belonging to place, memory and social interactions. In addition the study proves this process has a significant correlation with Time and Satisfaction of habitation too. The results show that, when the period of the settlement time in Hashtgerd New Town has increased, its identity has promoted. Furthermore, as the level of people satisfaction is increased, the new town identity is promoted. The research findings indicate that the level of identity criterion is between poor (bad) and moderate. However, this level in the first phase of this town is close to moderate status, meaning that it is better than the second phase (status between poor and moderate). The third phase of the town has a weak identity. The main reason for these different situations is related to the four mentioned criteria for evaluating and analyzing the process of identity formation in the three phases. The first phase of the new town has provided more suitable context for the above process, rather than the second and third phases. Since there is a positive and strong relation between settlement duration and people satisfaction with identity, it can be considered the different conditions and their effects of these two criteria on the mentioned aspects. Identity formation process in new towns requires time and opportunity. It is necessary to use strategic and effective plans. Identity formation process can be achieved through clear vision on important criteria, including legibility and personification, belonging to place, memory and social interactions, as well as residents’ satisfaction. Designing central points, symbols and specific spaces for social interactions, are necessary to improve new towns identity. Emphasizing only on housing production, consequently as dormitory places, is a key problem in new towns development. Provision of public facilities is the most important factor to accelerate identity formation process. There are challenges affecting the process of identity formation, needing other strategies to consider for mitigation and solving the problems.