Architecture of Tehran

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Tehran is a relatively old city. As such, it has an architectural tradition unique to itself.

Despite the occurrence of earthquakes during the Qajar period and before, some buildings still remain from Tehran's era of antiquity. However, most of Tehran's architecture has been obliterated by the wave of hasty modernization that swept through the capital over the last 40 to 50 years. Of the 8 city gates of old Tehran, none remain today.

Tehran's growth began with the Qajar dynasty declaring Tehran as their capital. Soon many palaces were built and by the late 1970s, Tehran had grown so large that Ray, a former satellite and city in itself, became connected to the ever expanding "Greater Tehran".

The Qajar culture flowered into a mature form of vernacular architecture, and many relics today remain of this tradition. Most, however, are government offices and residences of the royal elite. The "Kushak" of Ahmad Shah in the Niavaran Palace Complex is a fine example of this tradition.

Many of the urban designs of modern Tehran are attributed to Victor Gruen in the 1960s. Gruen devised a master plan for many of northern Tehran's neighborhoods between the years 1963-1967.[1][2][3][4]

Pahlavi architecture tried incorporating themes from European Modern architecture. The "White House" of Sadabad Palace or the main Palace of Niavaran are examples of this style of design.

Despite the chaotic sprawl of Tehran, many designers are gradually incorporating aesthetics in their designs, and international awards have been given to projects in the city.[5][6]

The architectural development of Tehran according to Richard Frye[edit]

Prominent Iranologist Richard Nelson Frye launched the May 2004 Tehran architecture conference[7] with a candid critique of Tehran's architectural development. He stated that municipal authorities have turned their backs on Tehran's heritage and looked toward the West - Paris, London and New York — for inspiration. "I think they abandoned Tehran", he is quoted as saying, "Innovation, yes. But not slavish copying. Forgetting your heritage, forgetting your background is not recommended."

Frye continued that modern buildings in Tehran should maintain a Persian style and sensibility and "not be a copy of the bad architecture that sweeps the world in globalization", he remarked. "I think it’s essential that the heritage of a people be preserved. If Wal Mart came to Isfahan, what would happen to the bazaar?"

Frye has urged Iranians to work hard to preserve their identity.[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica entry for Victor Gruen: [1]
  2. ^ Mall Maker: Victor Gruen, Architect of an American Dream. M. Jeffrey Hardwick, Victor Gruen. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8122-3762-5 pp.220
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