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Persian Today: Sunday, November 28, 2021 Search

Tehran, Housing & Town-planning

The statistical data on housing and households give us an incomplete but useful image of characteristics and diversity of urban structure and types of dwellings. As in the field of education, here too we see that quality of dwelling units and their facilities have improved. Despite increase in the costs of construction and rentals,Tehran has never had vast slums. Only 1.7% of buildings are constructed with nondurable material, 97.9% of dwelling units have power supply and 95% of them have water pipelines. There is a rapid move toward homogeneity in housing conditions between Tehran and other cities and villages in the Province of Tehran and between north and south of the City after the reconstruction campaign in its southern quarters. Cities like Eslamshahr and Qarchak face social problems and shortage of facilities but the proper quality of their dwelling units is acceptable.
The overall good quality of dwelling units of Tehran Metropolis should not overshadow the sometimes very significant contrast between luxurious penthouses of northern Tehran or lavasan and nondurable houses of some neighboring mountainous villages. On the other hand, we are witnessing a tendency toward unequal development of super modern neighborhoods in Tehran that are characterized with construction of high-rises and building complexes according to international standards. New and distant suburbs near varamin and shahriar are being inhabited by newly arrived migrants and some residents of Tehran who have left Tehran under constraints.
The map of dwelling units built before 1966 clearly lays out Tehran’s history. Sixty percent of dwelling units located within the borders during the Qajar and Rezashah’s reign belong to the period before 1966. A similar situation can also be seen in Rey and Tajrish. The maps that follow show how the city has expanded rapidly southward and westward since 1970s, despite the fact that the master plan of 1968 predicted a northward only expansion. Many of the vacant urban spaces around the city in these years, and also following the Revolution, became built-up areas. During the same period (1970–1986), however, old buildings were renovated and many others were demolished. Since early 1990s, the city expanded only toward northwest and northeast. Construction of many towers and highrise buildings and also the reconstruction campaign of southern Tehran were completed after 1990.

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Tehran’s Comprehensive plan, with an agenda to expand a metropolis, was propounded in early 1960s. This plan was provided by Abdolaziz Farmanfarmaian and Victor Gruen in 1966 and entered the implementation phase in 1968. According to this plan, Tehran Metropolis would have had extended westward toward Karaj, merged with Rey and Tajrish,and would have had the capacity to house 5,500,000 residents within an area of 180km2, by 1991. This plan was in favor of motor cars and the priority was to create a highway network for a sprawled City with a low population density. Although this plan was only partially implemented and the City extended southward rather than westward, it still continues to be a reference for planning and management even today. Between 1960 and 1970, Tehran (with a population of 2.7 million in 1965) expanded northward and southward, and its northern luxurious quarters stood against its southern ones inhabited by the poor. Westward, along Karaj highway, a new industrial zone with low population density took form, although no suburban town had yet been established. Also Karaj had a population of less than 50000. The real transformation of Tehran into a metropolis occurred in 1974, following a sharp rise in crude oil prices, and again after the Islamic revolution in 1978-9. at that period Tehran had 5 millions residents, 500,000 of whom lived in its new suburbs. In the years following the Islamic Revolution and then during the imposed war of Iraq on Iran, opportunity to review the Comprehensive plan was lost. In 1991, however, the plan was reviewed by the Iranian company ATEC in order to find solutions for the new problems of a metropolis which now had an area of 700km2. This review, however, included the City only within its borders (a total area of 707 km2) and ignored the new suburbs around it. ATEC’s analyses and proposals were not approved by Tehran’s Municipality. Thus, the Ministry of Housing and urban Development provided technical assistance to the Municipality to prepare a set of recommendations and directives that was to serve as the 25 year plan of Tehran. For the first time in 2001, the plan of Tehran’s conurbation (Greater Tehran), concerning the City and the urbanized lands around it, was drafted. This plan brought about the idea of creating major and expensive infrastructures to be funded by the government of the province of Tehran. However, there has been no administrative organization to manage such projects in the scale of the Greater Tehran.

Despite the fact that the city of Tehran and the province are historically, economically, and culturally different, they are similar in regards to types of buildings. In the whole metropolis, including cities and rural areas, the demand for housing is similar: having a house is a prerequisite for marriage among nearly all families. This attitude is common even among poor migrants. Thus, everyone’s goal is to own a house. Factor analysis and classification of regions, cities and dehestans point to five equal housing types based on date of construction: Modern and well-equipped dwelling units in the northern and western quarters of Tehran and in Karaj, Similar to the first type, with concrete structures (apartment units in Tehran or suburbs equipped with piped gas supply), Relatively-equipped dwelling units (telephone and central heating) in northern-central Tehran and small towns at Alborz mountain slopes, either new, traditional or made of bricks. New, single room dwelling units made of semidurable materials in spontaneous settlements of Tehran or in the rural areas where new inhabitants build dwelling units with minimum resources for sake of renting them to new migrants, Buildings that were built before 1960, sometimes made of nondurable material, in Tehran’s historical city center as well as the less developed mountainous villages.

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