Urban housing design in Iran in response to socio-cultural and environmental conditions
The purpose of this study was to formulate guidelines for urban housing design in Tehran based on the cultural norms of its residents and the city's environmental conditions. The initial cause of this study was the lack of a framework for the design and evaluation of new housing projects in Tehran and the aim was to investigate the suitability or otherwise of high-rise high-density housing forms for Iranian society. In order to achieve the main objectives of this thesis, a series of studies were undertaken. The theoretical background relating to the main issues of this research was reviewed and where possible related to Iranian culture and way of life. It is universally acknowledged that increasing the quality of the built environment will improve people's quality of life. In this regard general human needs and their interpretation in design terms are investigated. It is also known that environmental and ecological conditions have a direct impact on people's quality of life. Ignor ing environmental needs results in gradual destruction of the regional and global environment, which in turn undermines the quality of urban settlements. For this reason ecological and environmental issues related to sustainable urban living and development are analysed. In order to find out whether or not there are alternative settlement forms that could be more suitable for Iranian urban housing a number of recently developed urban settlement theories and projects are also investigated. The socio-economic background and housing conditions of Tehran were investigated. A questionnaire survey programme was developed to gather information on the degree of user satisfaction in four selected settlements in Tehran. The data collected was crosschecked with local observations and physical measurements of the areas. A detailed analysis of this data proved that there is a high degree of user satisfaction with dwellings, but about a third of the respondents were not satisfied with their neighbourhood. The study of human needs and environmental sustainability issues, in accordance with Iranian and Islamic culture, produces a list of housing demands on which the design of future housing in Tehran ought to be based. Based on the list of demands - the outcome of investigations on general human needs, Iranian Socio-cultural conditions, and the environmental ecological sustainability issues -a set of design guidelines for future housing in Iran are developed. Using a list of criteria - derived from the previously developed design guidelines - all the urban development projects in Tehran and the UK that were studied are compared and evaluated to determine their qualities and densities. Also investigated is the applicability in Tehran of the neighbourhood model, on which many recent British, American, and Australian development guidelines are based. From this comparison and evaluation, the thesis concludes that in order to achieve high density it is not necessary to resort to hi gh-rise forms as low-rise fortris, if applied consistently, can achieve similar densities on a more human scale. In response to Islamic culture and environmental sustainability issues it is necessary to have access to local services and facilities within walking distance. To support their viability within a neighbourhood, a threshold population is required; in the case of Tehran this does not seem to be a significant problem. The population should be evenly distributed in order to achieve a balanced urban environment. A balanced relationship between the built up area and the countryside is essential. The translation of these key issues would form the structure of a walkable neighbourhood. In order to achieve a high quality urban environment, housing design guidelines on a national level are required that can help the decision-making process as well as helping the relevant professionals in their work. The thesis concludes with a set of recommendations for the implementation of the design guidelines.