Trend Analysis of “Understanding of Tehran” Through Its Development Plans

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant professor, School of Urban Planning, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran

2 Professor, School of Urban Plannig, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


Tehran’s urban development plans are based on the understanding of Tehran, which represents the evolution of knowledge and experience of urban planning as well as the structure of the urban decision-making system during the 40-year period of urban planning in Tehran between 1967 to 2007. The reason for such a claim is that understanding of Tehran in these plans is the same as that of the plan's developers and the people involved in reviewing and approving it. Therefore, it is traceable and not an illusion. If we believe that the first determining factor in how to deal with a phenomenon is how to understand it, there is a significant gap in the theoretical and experimental literature of urban planning in Tehran over the last 40 years, which the current study aims to address and answer. Grasping and analyzing such understanding, including pre-conceptions and the mechanism of understanding formation, will play an important role in the birth of a kind of critical thinking to urban planning in Tehran. In this research, by content analyzing of Tehran urban development plans (1967, 1991 and 2007) through a coding process; the components of "Understanding of Tehran" are extracted and then, by analyzing the relations between them, a narrative of these understandings is presented. In order to analyze the compatibility and validity of the research, the second researcher has been employed in the research process. The evolution of understanding of Tehran within its urban development plans has shown that these understandings are entirely dependent on the authors, time and context, and despite extensive advances in planning theory over the last fifty years, there hasn’t been considerable change in how Tehran is understood. Therefore, it is still understood as determined, as an object, controllable and reduced. The findings, although verifying and agreeing with Gadamer's hermeneutic philosophy, remind us that no phenomenon, including the city, has a single essence, and its meaning is as many interpretations as possible. As a result, any encounter with the phenomena of the city that is based on a single understanding of it is considered a form of reductionism. Consequently, any phenomenon's understanding evolves with time and will not remain constant. Of course, given that the producers of the three Tehran development plans' understanding were primarily focused on the visible layer of needs and desires, what has changed in their understanding is primarily related to the superficial issues rather than the roots and foundations; and as a result, their basic understandings of Tehran have not changed over time significantly. In terms of approach and method, this research has a significant contribution, and it may be used not only to examine the planning process in other cities, but also for other ill-conceived concepts of urban planning. In other words, this study opens a new chapter in the evaluation of urban development plans and, more broadly, the evaluation of the application of urban planning concepts, which can bring numerous issues from urban planners' collective subconscious into their sphere of consciousness.


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