An Analysis of substantial and procedural evolution of urban design process and its application in Iranian urban design projects

Document Type : Research Paper


1 faculty of urban planning university of Tehran

2 Full Professor, Facualty of Urban Planning, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran


Nowadays, cities are faced with complicated problems and challenges with which current urban design processes are not capable to cope. Hence, many urban designers are looking for the processes that through which the products cope with the time requirements, circumstances of the context on one hand and the knowledge base of urban design on the other hand. However, the failure to develop such knowledge has caused the urban design process to be carried out on the practical experiences of designers and a framework outside of the concepts of theoretical knowledge. Therefore, its legitimacy is characterized without the theory-based structure. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analysis the substantial and procedural evolutions of urban design process. Due to the lack of the theoretical consideration of the procedural issues in the framework of urban design knowledge, procedural theories of urban planning knowledge is studied and the basic concepts affecting the urban design process have been elicited, elaborated and described. Such a framework, in addition to explaining all the effective concepts that guide the process, describes how these concepts are applied on stages of the urban design process, and in this way the obscure and sometimes abstract concepts are applied in a practical way, since the compiled categories clearly illustrate how each of the concepts is applied based on the steps of urban design process. Power, public interest, public participation, problem orientation, context orientation, flexibility, and multi-level intervention are some concepts that appropriate the main implications of the evaluation framework referring to the strategic approach, the communication approach, and that of rational problem solving. In addition to providing some indicators for defining the concepts and determining how to apply them in the urban design process, the considered framework makes it possible to analyze and evaluate the process of urban design projects, regardless of time and location. Consequently, in the next step and in order to assess the application of the evaluation framework in Iranian urban design projects, 10 Iran’s urban design projects approved within 2007- 2017 were investigated using directed qualitative content analysis method and appropriate statistical methods.  The assessment outcomes demonstrate that the concepts of public interest, power, and public participation, respectively, have had the lowest and those of multi-level intervention, context orientation, problem orientation, and flexibility have had the highest rate of application in the selected projects. This represents the prevailing strategic approach, at the both theoretical and practical levels, in Iran’s urban design discourse. Despite introducing the concept of participation in the urban design discourse of Iran, the communication approach has faced major challenges to be applied in Iranian design projects because of neglecting the concept of power and its undeniable role in guiding the urban design process, lack of empowerment and acquaintance of the society with their demands and expectations from the plan, and how to pursue and follow it up in the form of a process of social learning. This vividly reveals the significance of the further researches on the challenges ahead applying the concepts of communication approach in Iranian urban design projects.


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