Continuity and change in old cities : an analytical investigation of the spatial structure in Iranian and English historic cities before and after modernisation
This thesis attempts to present a new approach to the concepts of continuity and change in historic cities through an analytical investigation of the urban space and structure in the past and present. This has its origin in the belief that the spatial structure of a city is a dynamic product of the interaction between the forces which tend to change the built fabric of the city and the forces which tend to retain it. This conception is the subject of investigation through a comparative analysis of urban structure in six Iranian and six English historic cities. The main discussions of the thesis are built around three major interrelated themes: old (organic) structure, physical modernisation and urban conservation. The application of the spatio-analytical methodology of the research reveals the genotypical characteristics and the sensible spatial structure which contributes to a common logic of organic cities. The analysis also demonstrates how these features change in adaptation with the imposed forces of each society. Whereas the evolutionary process of change in English historic cities leads to the relative integration of the old core within the modern urban grid and an agreeable co-existence between the old and new, the radical transformation of urban structure, under the name of modernisation, in Iranian cities brings disintegration and alienation into the old core. The thesis shows that the spatial transformation of the old city influences the fate of the historic core, not only in terms of physical morphology, but also in terms of a various set of social parameters which incorporate the urban elements. Consequently, the relevant issues of the present and future -such as urban conservation- in both urban systems are affected by the way the spatial structure of the city is treated. This shapes a new approach to the issue of urban conservation, based on a global understanding of the urban spatial system and the interdependence between the dynamics of the urban grid and the tendencies towards continuity and change.