Participatory urban redevelopment in Tehran: an investigation through sense of place

Goran Erfani

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Within the last decade, the municipality of Tehran has initiated the involvement of citizens in the reconstruction of their places. This departure from a top-down, expert-driven approach indicates a more participatory move towards urban redevelopment in Tehran. This study examines this change in municipal direction using a framework based on the concept of ‘sense of place’. A range of qualitative techniques were applied, including photo-elicitation methods and semi-structured interviews with local participants, to understand the participatory processes and their outcomes. Two inner-city participatory cases were studied. In the Takhti neighbourhood and the Oudlajan bazaar, the municipality invited owners to participate in the physical and economic improvements of their place through land assemblage and/or sharing redevelopment costs. The selection of cases in a range of conditions located in both residential and commercial areas with/without historical value illustrates the participatory approach to urban redevelopment in Tehran. The research shows that although the approach adopted by the municipality was a step towards more participatory decision-making, few significant gains were made due to some undesirable outcomes and serious limitations as expressed by participants. According to these participants, although the experience of involvement more or less enhanced their sense of place, few of the substantive outcomes were able to do so. This study therefore identifies that most benefits were gained as a result of the participatory process itself. When the main participants had good access to resources the process went more smoothly, resulting in higher quality outcomes and further place satisfaction. When resources were less available and/or intermittent the participants expressed less satisfaction. However, the picture provided by the results shows highly complex narratives. At different stages of the involvement process, and in relation to different outcomes, the participants narrated varying and even contradictory senses of place.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Newcastle University
  • Roe, Maggie, Supervisor, External person
  • Madanipour, Ali, Supervisor, External person
Award date11 Apr 2018
Publication statusSubmitted - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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