The Role of Outdoor Cafes in Urban Regeneration Case of Isfahan Chahar Bagh Avenue

Document Type : Research Paper



Many cities and towns across the world have poured investment into improving and re-creating the urban public realm, in the redesign of plazas, streets and parks. These designs are intended to have a social impact by encouraging more active social life in urban public space. With the concern to bring back places lost vitality, recently, attention has been focused on the creation of cafe culture and developing outdoor cafes. In outdoor cafes Apart from drinking and relaxing, people enjoy a number of activities which derive from the public character of the setting: watching the world go by, being 'entertained by street life', bumping into people one knows, seeing and being seen and meeting strangers. This paper aims to investigate about the role of pavement cafes in urban regeneration and tries to probe into how these cafes can be used in order to revitalize functionally an urban place. Adopting an analytical-descriptive research method, the concepts of sidewalk cafes and their urban role is theoretically studied in this paper. After summarizing the views of leading researchers of this realm, "improving sense of attachment to place", "enhancing social interactions", "having economic benefits" and "increasing feeling of safety" are mentioned as physical, social and mental functions of outdoor cafes. The research for this article was conducted on Chahar Bagh Avenue in Isfahan. This case is the most important historical street of Iran which was built in safavid era by Shah Abbas as an recreational and commercial axis. Recently, regeneration of this street has become an important part of city development plans. With the concern to bring back this street lost character, most of proposals lay emphasis on rebuilding of street facades and pedestrainisation of it. Although these plans are affective and somehow essential, but they need lots of Infrastructure measures, and they are costly and time consuming. Consequently, taking into consideration of other solutions which are less expensive and time saving, seems indispensable. This paper puts forward the argument that developing sidewalk cafes and cafe culture could be considered as a Preliminary solution of regenerating Chahar Bagh Avenue, functionally. As a result, this paper carry out a study of all the factors that play a part as social, physical and mental restrictions of recreational activities in Chahar Bagh. Supporting evidences gathered by empirical examination of behavioral responses of people in this limited area. Observation and Structured and semi structured interviews were used to study deficiencies which limit users’ recreational activities on this street. Then through a descriptive-comparative approach this paper draws an analogy between the economic, social, environmental, physical-spatial, administrational and cultural dimensions of outdoor cafes and this street limitation as a recreational zone. This comparison establishes a connection between Chahar Bagh needs of social conditioning and what street cafes offer as social institutions. There for, this paper draws the conclusion that sidewalk cafes and cafe culture, in the absence of sufficient researches, proper decisions and governmental support, can be used in order to revitalize functionally Chahar Bagh Avenue.


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