The Role of Regulation in Tehran’s Housing Transformation

Document Type : Research Paper


1 University of Tehran

2 Faculty of architecture/collage of fine arts


Housing-related issues have always been a challenging topic in architectural research. Studying the history of Tehran’s housing architecture reflects a wide range of changes in the past century in the internal arrangement, mass-space, and the envelope of residential buildings. These transformations raise many questions such as the question of what factors are engaged in changing residential buildings. Even though many studies have tried to answer this question, the role of regulation in housing transformation seems less concerned. The objective of this paper is to investigate the principal factors responsible for housing transformation with an emphasis on the role of regulation in the process of change to fill this nitch in housing studies. In other words, this study tries to explain how the central courtyard houses transformed into row-type apartment buildings and what sort of concepts have changed in this process in the living environments. The hypothesis of this research is that regulations are mostly responsible for principle changes both in mass-space and internal arrangement of residential buildings. To test this hypothesis, first, the factors influenced housing transformation were identified based on historical study and then using content analysis method, some keywords representing the change have derived from the historical study. Putting these keywords in order of time shows a sequence of change which indicate regulation’s influence not only in mass-space but also in defining the internal arrangement of residential buildings. Findings of the historical study showed that residential buildings changed based on three aspects; physical aspects, socio-cultural aspects, and administrative aspects. Studying the administrative aspects, bureaucratic shifting found as one of the most impacting determinants in housing design. The bureaucratic shifting resulted in a change in authorities which revealed it’s impact by new legislation both for architecture and the urbanscape. Studies showed that in the first place, the origin of these legislations is under question but what hit residential architecture the most is the extent to which these legislations regarded. Investigation of this paper showed that in time of some authorities, regulations were neglected as much as one could pay for any illegal construction. Therefore, residential buildings got impacted not only because of mal-establishment of regulation but also because of its mal-implementation. Based on content analysis of the historical studies of this research, two terms of “Pattern-based” and “Regulation-base” residence have introduced as representative of different approaches toward housing design. Pattern-based residences described as houses shaped by following a framework called patterns which either used in historical houses in Iran or imported. A regulation-based residence identified as houses or apartments shaped by following the municipality regulations. The conclusion of this survey is that amongst technological and ideological changes as a result of the modern movement in the past century, regulation’s role in changing residential building’s architecture is very significant and life-changing. The dominance of regulation in housing design not only limited the answer to the question of design but also eliminated the role of the architect and his/her creativity in the design process.