The Role of Collective Memory in Urban Regeneration: in Search of Solutions to Historic Area Regeneration in Lahijan

Document Type : Research Paper


M.Sc. Graduate in Urban Design, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.


Human habitats are full of memories that the inhbitants remember from their comman pasts.These memories are sometimes individual or personal but, sometimes, they have a collective nature. Removing memories and discontinuity with the past has resulted in ignoring some of these common memories and causing some memorable places to be demolished or drastically changed; which is dramatically widespread throughout the country. This paper aims to investigate about the role of collective memory in urban regeneration and tries to probe into how collective memories can be used in order to revitalize a deteriorated urban fabric. Adopting an analytical-descriptive research method, the concepts of collective memory and urban regeneration is theoretically studied in this paper. According to this study, "sense of attachment  to place", "social coherence" and "sense of place" are mentioned as psychological, social and environmental functions of collective memory and then through these functions the effects of collective memory on the economic, social, environmental, physical-spatial, administrational and cultural dimensions of urban regeneration are proved. Then through a descriptive-comparative approach, the correctness of the study findings is tested by comparing with a flourishing accomplished case study (urban regeneration of Bronzeville neighbourhood, Chicago) and an unsuccessful case study (historical area of Lahijan_which is not paid attention as much as the ecotouristic area of the city), providing a comparative analysis. According to the studies of this paper, in Bronzeville experience, an urban regeneration has been implemented, using and bolding collective memories and improving social participation in the neighbourhood. In doing so, some thematic projects like “Eyes on Walls urban arts”, “Mosaic Art”, “the Great Migration sculpture”, “Bronze Map of Bronzeville”, “23 Benches”, and so on has been run and helped urban management to attract social participation for revitalizing the neighbourhood. The strong linkage between these projects and collective memories of the inhabitants, and on the other hand, spending time, budjet and energy by them to do these projects, has been led to “sense of attachment” and “social coherence”. Additionally, improving the quality of urban places through performing the mentioned projects, using local artists and labours, has been resulted in redefining “sense of place” in bronzeville. Historical urban places of Lahijan is the unsuccessful case study which is investigated in this paper. Lahijan is one of historical cities in the north of Iran which has seven historical neighbourhood and some memorable monuments (Chahar-Padshah shrine, Akbariye Mosque, Jameh Mosque, Golshan Public Bath, …). There are some old rituals or religious ceremonies like Chehel Menbar that the inhabitants of historical area believe and perform them. As a result, based on Bronzeville experience and the paper’s theoretical framework, some specific solutions which is neglected in the decisions of Lahijan urban management were proposed in order to use collective memory for historical area regeneration.Using public arts (mural paintings, graffitis, portraits, sculptures, …) appropriate to the context of historical area, using local artists' works of art, preserving local ceremonies and ritulas, performing memorable ceremonial dramas like Taziyeh, … in the historical public places are some of these proposed solutions