Transnational Building of a Modern Planning Regime in Iran
Elmira Jafari & Carola Hein
In 1962, in the midst of the Cold War and under the direct inﬂuence of John. F. Kennedy’s presidency, Mohammad Reza Shah launched his White Revolution, generally known as a top-down modernization project.13 Due to rising socio-political unrest in Iran, Kennedy pressured the Shah to initiate reforms.14 The Kennedy administration hoped that the White Revolution reforms could prevent Communist-inspired revolution in Iran. The administration, therefore, funnelled money to Iran to stabilize the US position in the Cold War contest. However, for the Shah, the key ambition of the White Revolution was to make Iran in general and Tehran in particular a ‘showcase of modernization’ in the Middle East region.15 The White Revolution, therefore, embraced fundamental social and economic reforms in which land reform was among the most inﬂuential.16 Many of the White Revolution reforms targeted traditional ruling classes: ulema (traditional religious leaders) and their allies, the bazaaris (traditional merchants), who were also among big landowners, and enjoyed a great deal of control over economic and social aﬀairs in the country.17 Their politico-economic power presented a considerable barrier to the Shah’s modernization project.18 Ulema and bazaaris saw modernization and industrialization as threats ‘to the traditional Islamic way of life’ and therefore ‘to their economic and social supremacy’.19 Thus, they became the main opponents of the White Revolution and mobilized mass support against the Shah.20
To accelerate modernization and make it compatible with global standards, the government sponsored Plan Organization aimed at nurturing a generation of local experts through internationalization of development projects.21 The Plan Organization served as the main institution to realize the king’s aspirations for the country.22 To improve its functionality, in 1954 the Shah personally appointed the Iranian economist Abolhasan Ebtehaj as the head of the Plan Organization.23 The former board member of Iran’s National Bank and pioneer of the concept of economic planning in Iran, Ebtehaj was an internationally well-known ﬁgure.24 From 1954 to 1959, he played a central role in a fundamental restructuring of the Plan Organization. Ebtehaj initiated a new phase in Iranian planning by laying a foundation for close collaboration with foreign experts and advisors, who were expected to transfer their knowledge and experience to Iranian counterparts.25 For Ebtehaj, collaborating with foreign experts was a way to nurture a generation of local experts.26
In the early 1960s, the Plan Organization passed a rule that compelled Iranian ﬁrms to collaborate with Western companies – with a minimum share of 50 percent for local ﬁrms.27 This rule attracted many foreign-trained Iranian architects and planners who enthusiastically returned to the country and registered their architecture and planning ﬁrms with the Plan Organization.28 As a result, in the early 1960s, the number of registered Iranian consulting ﬁrms increased remarkably.29 Foreign-trained Iranian professionals played a signiﬁcant part in channelling well-known architects and planners from their countries of study towards Iran. The growing economic condition and the fast-paced modernization of the country made Iran a favourable destination for foreign ﬁrms.
According to Iranian scholar and urban planner Bahram Farivar Sadri, the inception of collaboration between Iranian and foreign ﬁrms became a turning point in modern planning practices in Iran.30 Directed by foreign-trained Iranian planners, a modern planning regime was conceived in Iran in which Dariush Borbor, British-trained urban planner, played a prominent role therein.31 The birth of Iranian modern planning system can be dated to the establishment of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) in 1964 and of the High Council of Architecture and Urban Planning (HCAUP) in 1966 with the support of the Plan Organization.32 The MHUD was responsible for ‘programs and projects related to urban planning, land use, urban water supply and sanitation, new development and housing’.33 Soon after its establishment, the MHUD commissioned 14 master plans for major cities in Iran.34 In order to formulate overall urban planning policies and approval strategies for the upcoming master plans, in 1966 the HCAUP was formed.35 The council consisted of the twelve ministers who were serving at the time with French-trained Iranian architect Naser Badi, as director; he was the former head of the planning department in the Tehran Municipality. The Plan Organization became responsible for administering the contracts of the master plans and the HCAUP took charge of technical matters related to the plans.36
To assure that joint ventures of national and international planners with a variety of training backgrounds would respect the local context of Iranian cities, the HCAUP required the preparation of two diﬀerent but interrelated phases for each master plan.37 The ﬁrst phase was dedicated to general studies of the city, including its social, economic and physical features.38 The second phase called ‘Detailed Plan’ introduced the urban plan with detailed recommendations for its realization.39
INTERNATIONALIZING THE FIRST TEHRAN MASTER PLAN: FROM CONSORTIUM TO JOINT VENTURE
The formation of the TMP and the intricacy of selecting eligible and qualiﬁed planners to conceive the most prominent planning document for the capital city of Tehran indicate the emerging role of Iranian professionals in a newly born modern planning system. In 1965, the ﬁrst TMP was commissioned by the deputy director of the Plan Organization, Mohammad Ali Saﬁ Asﬁa.40 The Plan Organization ﬁrst insisted on the leadership of foreign-trained Iranian planners who had recently founded their own architecture and planning ﬁrms in the country.41 Since none of them was experienced enough to guarantee the development of the project, the Plan Organization appointed four newly established local planning and architectural ﬁrms to form a consortium.42 The consortium consisted of Dariuish Borbor, British-trained urban planner; Ali Adibi, American-trained civil engineer; Farokh Hirbod, American-trained urban planner; and AmirAli Sardar Afkhami, French-trained architect.43
While the appointed Iranian planners battled for their own position and supremacy in the planning process, they organized Gruen’s invitation to help reinforcing the formation of the consortium. Hirbod, who had worked for Victor Gruen Associates, proposed inviting Gruen to collaborate with the locals.44 Gruen immediately discussed the issue with Fereydoon Ghaﬀari, an Iranian architect who was working at Victor Gruen Associates since his graduation in 1955. Ghaﬀari studied architecture at the University of Southern California; however, since the beginning of his professional career, he had been involved in urban planning projects in the Gruen’s oﬃce.45 Ghaﬀari travelled to Tehran to meet with the Iranian architects of the consortium. Local planners oﬀered Victor Gruen Associates to be ‘the sub-consultant of the consortium’, but Gruen refused to participate in the project as a sub-consultant.46 Ghaﬀari explained:
[…] the meeting with the architects was not what I expected. Instead of trying to deﬁne the process of hiring a foreign consultant and preparing the master plan – as suggested by the government – the architects were arguing, each over the position of his ﬁrm within the consortium. Each architect wanted to be the head of the consortium group.47
As members of the consortium could not reach a consensus, the Plan Organization abandoned the concept of establishing a consortium that would prepare the TMP.48 The minister of Housing and Urban Development then invited Abdolaziz Farmanfarmaian, Iranian architect who had graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, to take lead of the plan. Farmanfarmaian had strong political ties in the government, as his family included one of the most inﬂuential politicians of the time, and his brother Manucher Mirza Farmanfarmaian was the director of the National Iranian Oil Company. Farmanfarmaian had returned to Iran in 1950 and founded his architectural company, known as Abdolaziz Farmanfarmaian Associates (AFFA). The 15-story building of the National Iranian Oil Company Headquarters, constructed in Tehran between 1961 and 1964, was among his most prominent projects at that time.49 During his career, Farmanfarmaian became a close friend of the Shah and possibly the Shah regarded him as a trustworthy person to develop the TMP.50 According to Ferydoon Rassouli, one of the local planners of the TMP, Farmanfarmaian was perhaps a right choice for the most important planning project of the country, as his ﬁrm was ‘the most advanced architectural and engineering government consultant’ in Iran.51
After the dismantling of the consortium of Iranian planners, the selected ﬁrm of Farmanfarmaian had to be partnered with an expert foreign planner, since he had neither any experience in urban planning nor any urban planners on his team.52 Ghaﬀari played an instrumental role in the awarding of the contract to Victor Gruen Associates. With the knowledge that Farmanfarmaian was in search of a foreign partner, Ghaﬀari contacted him and proposed Victor Gruen Associates as the partner. According to Ghaﬀari, ‘Farmanfarmaian [was] already acquainted with the work of Victor Gruen Associates, and its designs of shopping centres, but he did not know that it was also a planning ﬁrm’.53 Their meeting resulted in Gruen making a short trip to Tehran to meet with Farmanfarmaian.54 Gruen proposed that ‘the two ﬁrms form a joint venture to undertake the study’, and suggested that Ghaﬀari ‘should be appointed as the general manager of the joint venture and given the responsibility of preparing the plan’.55 Gruen also selected Edgardo Contini as the partner in charge of the Tehran project. Contini had obtained a degree in civil engineering in Rome and was one of the partners of Victor Gruen Associates.56
Gruen’s inﬂuence upon the Tehran project came through being a ﬁgurehead to legitimize the work of young local professionals in a country in which modern planning system was still in the formation. At that time, media and architectural magazines credited the TMP to the ‘big-name planner’ Victor Gruen;57 however, the supervision of a well-known foreign planning ﬁrm was to help reinforcing the formation of the most signiﬁcant urban vision for Tehran in which Ghaﬀari played a pivotal role therein.58 In 1966, Ghaﬀari moved to Tehran to set up the joint venture and negotiate the contract with the Plan Organization.59 After renting a three-story building located across the street from Farmanfarmaian’s oﬃce, Ghaﬀari started an international eﬀort to recruit staﬀ for the joint venture.60 Over the following few months, the oﬃce grew to a total number of twenty including Khosrow Moaveni, the assistant general manager of the oﬃce, who was Gaﬀari’s cousin and had a degree in traﬃc and transportation from the University of California, Berkley; David Yeadon, British urban planner who became the senior planner of the project; the architect Robert Shaﬀer, who was already working on rural development projects in Tabriz, Iran.61 Additionally, there were a number of young Iranian junior architects working with the team, who were recently graduates of the University of Tehran’s School of Architecture: Fereydoon Rassouli, Noshin Ehsan, and Fereshteh Bekhrad.62 Later on these young architects, who gained experienced from the Tehran project, became the main role players in further elaboration of the TMP in the mid-1970s.
Directed with Fereydoon Ghaﬀari, the joint venture involved multiple local and international actors who closely collaborated to negotiate Tehran’s urban problems and plot the future of the city. Several local agencies and organizations cooperated with the planning team, namely the Plan Organization, the Ministry of Housing and Development, Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Water and Power, Iran’s Central Bank, the Tehran Municipality, the Statistical Centre of Iran, and the newly established Social Research Institute.63 Moreover, Gaﬀari selected the Dutch Economic Institute as the consultant on economic issues, and the American ﬁrm of Amman and Whitney for input regarding engineering and infrastructure planning.64
THE FIRST TEHRAN MASTER PLAN AND THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN LOCAL AND FOREIGN PLANNERS
Prior to the establishment of the TMP, local actors and city authorities had their own development agendas emanated from the changing demographic, economic, and social structure of the city. The 1962 land reforms exerted a dramatic impact on Tehran and its pattern of population growth; the implementation of land reforms on a national scale gave rise to massive rural-urban migration, which meant that migrants were streaming into the capital.65 Many peasants who could not repay their loans to the banks were attracted by rising job opportunities in the capital.66 As a result, in the mid-1960s, Tehran’s population reached approximately 2.8 million, almost one third of Iran’s urban population.67 At that time, Tehran’s urban expansion involved ‘under-regulated, private-sec- tor driven and speculative development’, and the Tehran municipality was not capable of controlling this process.68 By swiftly integrating surrounding towns and villages, the city was growing in a dis- jointed manner in all directions.69 This process transformed Tehran into ‘a number of towns connected to each other in an inappropriate way’, As Madanipour comments.70
In the mid-1960s, the historical centre of Tehran was a dominant political, economic, and administrative hub that provided infrastructure and services for an ever-increasing population.71 The concentration of power, jobs, and industries further exacerbated Tehran’s politico-economic centrality on the national scale.72 Central Tehran was becoming home to all of the headquarters of Iranian banks and insurance companies.73 This also attracted foreign ﬁrms to establish new branches in the capital.74 Tehran was becoming an international cosmopolitan city.75 All of the newly arriving services and companies accumulated in the central core to take advantage of the proximity to the other commercial and business activities located there.76
The increasing congestion of Tehran’s central district encouraged the spatial redistribution of the population which exacerbated the existing social polarization in the capital.77 Outlying residential areas were mainly expanding towards two old settlements, Shemiran in the north and Ray in the south, without being accompanied by suﬃcient growth of economic, social and civic facilities. In line with the development of the outer areas of Tehran and the expansion of street networks, aﬄuent families left the congested central areas and moved to less dense places in the northern and western peripheries.78 As aﬄuent people relocated, the deserted central areas were reﬁlled by the urban poor and newcomers from distant cities and villages. The less privileged preferred to reside near their workplaces in the centre, both to pay less for public transportation and to beneﬁt from low rental prices in this densely populated area where families shared spacious traditional courtyard houses.79
Apart from the rising problems in the old city centre and the necessity of its decongestion,80 the Shah personally signalled a great interest in developing modern commercial centres in the capital.81 The Shah was a progressive man who personally desired Tehran to be a modern capital like the most advanced urban developments around the world.82 He saw the new centres in part as a way of meeting Tehranis’ ravenous demand for consumption of goods and services. But more critically, he saw these new centres as powerful tools to bring about political and socio-economic changes: they oﬀered the possibility of diminishing the dominance of the old city centre and the baazar and, in turn, the inﬂuence of traditional ruling class, the ulema and the bazaarie, who enjoyed strong control over the city centre and the Tehran bazaar. The Tehran bazaar was primarily ‘a wholesale and import-export marketplace’ involved in large-scale commerce which constantly played a crucial role in major political episodes.83 The Shah’s economic policies and the state’s focus on extensive industrialization posed a major threat to the role of the Tehran bazaar.84 Arang Keshavarzian stressed that ‘Mohammad Reza Shah was public and virulent in his disdain for bazaaris’.85 He asserted that the Shah’s opposition ‘had its roots in the modernist developmental ideology that denied the bazaar’s relevance to national and international commerce and predicted its demise’.86 In his book Answer to History, published a year after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Shah explained his intention of reducing the position of bazaars, notably the Tehran bazaar, in order to hasten national economic growth:
Bazaars are major social and commercial institution throughout the Mideast. But it remains my conviction that their time is past. The bazaar consists of a cluster of small shops. There is usually little sunshine or ventilation so that they are basically unhealthy environments. The bazaaris are a fanatical lot, highly resistant to change because their locations aﬀord a lucrative monopoly. […] I could not stop building supermarkets, I wanted a modern country. Moving against the bazaars was typical of the political and social risks I had to take in my drive for modernization.87
The local actors’ development agenda for Tehran emerged not only in response to local reality, but also global interests. They highlighted the concept of new urban centres as a way to give Tehran a modern urban pattern.88 Prior to the commission of the TMP, Gruen’s multifunctional shopping centres had been already celebrated in Iran and local professionals embraced the concept of modern centres. In 1962 the newly established Social Research Institute organized its ﬁrst seminar on ‘the Examination of Tehran’s Social Problems’.89 The seminar participants underlined the necessity of establishing American-style multifunctional centres to serve newly developed areas in Tehran.90 They emphasized that further study and investigation would be necessary to determine the most strategic locations for these new urban cores, but preferably these new centres would occupy then-vacant lands in the urban fabric.91 In the 1950s Gruen predicted that ‘the shopping centre would be the most important city planning strategy in the twentieth century’.92 Gruen’s shopping centre, as Catherine Maumi argues, were intended to serve as economic stimuli which would soon become powerful centres of attraction.93 Imagining the ‘Europeanization of America’, Gruen drew inspiration from European centres, and sought to insert an urban-like experience to American suburbs through the development of these new multifunctional centres.
Soon after the establishment of the TMP, the Iranian planners of the team dived into studying the changing socio-economic context of the city. Relying on the research conducted by the Social Research Institute in Tehran University and their own social surveys studying 27 diﬀerent districts in the city, the planning team underlined the changing traditional habits of Iranian society.94 Based on the existing data and statistics, they mapped the location and the number of religious, cultural, recreational and market places in Tehran, and highlighted the rising tendency of families towards modern recreational facilities rather than traditional and religious urban spaces.95 The planners concluded that as a result of diminutions of family ties and an associated increase in education, the ‘norms’ of social behaviour will rapidly change, inﬂuenced particularly by the urbanized countries. The old shopping pat- terns will disappear; the bazaar and the downtown centre are likely to diminish in importance, and the demand will arise for large ‘out-of-town’ centres fully equipped with parking, restaurants, supermarkets and community facilities. People will become more aware of their environment and the demand for adequate living space, public services and community facilities will increase.96
Changing demographic, social and economic condition of Tehran and the rising problems of the congested old city centre compelled the planners to think of a new urban organization for the city. According to the growth trends of previous decades, the planning team in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute of Social Studies estimated that Tehran’s population from the existing level of 2.6 million could reach to around 16 million by 1991.97 The Minister of Water and Power ﬁrmly objected, as they believed that water sources for Tehran were limited and could only serve a maximum of 5.5 million people.98 But, the planning team who had believed in Tehran’s potential growth of the population attempted to come up with a new urban organization capable of ﬂexible growth accommodating greater population in the future.99
As a reaction to local realities in the capital, the planning team called for shifting the centre of attention from the old city centre, riddled as it was with socio-political and physical problems, into modern centres of activities dispersed throughout the city. They scrutinized Gruen’s original concept of future metropolis, Cellular Metropolis of Tomorrow, and rejected its centripetal form radiating from the city centre.100 Moreover, Gruen aimed to deﬁne a workable size for his urban model and put emphasis on the magnetic power of modern centres to counterattack urban sprawl,101 although the result of shopping centres would promote further growth and accelerate the nightmare of suburban sprawl.102 Gruen argued that ‘there is a limit, somewhere, to the workable size of a metropolitan area. When the size is reached, then it would be wiser to limit further growth and to start with a new metropolitan region in another location’.103
An operation was therefore needed to hybridize Gruen's urban model with the wider social and economic structure of the city. After ﬁnishing the data collection and the preliminary analysis of alternative urban forms, Ghaﬀari asked Contini (the Victor Gruen Associates partner in charge of the Tehran project) to send an urban planner and a transportation specialist from the Los Angeles oﬃce to join the planning team for further consultations.104 On a few occasions, Contini also came to Tehran to participate in the development of the technical dimensions of the plan.105 The planning team examined the domination of the old city centre and aimed to redistribute service facilities agglomerated there among the centres of six new satellite towns positioned on an east– west axis. […] proposed new satellite towns were located on a linear axis running perpendicular to the existing north–south axis. Each new satellite town with a population of 300,000–500,000 would consist of communities of 20,000–30,000 people united by a new centre of activities. Each community in turn was divided into smaller units consisting of neighbourhoods of 5000 people served by smaller scale centres containing a school, a park, and neighbourhood commercial spaces. Moreover, the expansive farmlands in west Tehran were considered assets for the city’s expansion. Counting on these empty lands, the TMP almost tripled the city’s area from 180 to 600 km2, and pushed the growth of the city westward.
Establishing new centres of activities became the planners’ recipe for restructuring Tehran urban form.106 To assure the realization of the proposed linear structure, the planning team relied on the magnetic attraction of multifunctional urban centres encompassing a shopping centre, trade oﬃces, governmental buildings, recreation facilities, and hotels.107 Using the lure of ‘modern’ centres of activities, the planners attempted to guide the extension of the city beyond its existing parts. The planners saw these new centres as focal points with invaluable land to be ﬁlled with high-rise buildings. But, the verticality of these new centres contrasted starkly with the general horizontality of the old central districts. The planning team emphasized the prompt development of Latmer, a new satellite town located at the western end of the proposed linear structure. Due to its strategic location, the planners provided detailed plans for this new satellite town. With plans for an Olympic centre, a huge recreational park, new universities, and the new extension of Mehrabad airport, the satellite town of Latmer was projected to become one of the most attractive hubs of the capital, opposing the dominance of the old centre.108
Based on a three-year close collaboration with national and international agencies and extensive research studies, the local planners prepared a number of reports in two phases. The ﬁrst phase provided the socio-cultural and economic and physical analysis and recommendation for future development of the city, and the second phase provided detailed plans and speciﬁc recommendations for the realization of the TMP. In November 1968, the ﬁrst phase was approved by the HCUP.109 It was at this time that Gruen travelled to Tehran for the second time to attend the presentation of the plan to the Iranian cabinet headed by the Prime Minister Amir-Abbas Hoveyda.110 The participation of Gruen as a big-name planner in this formal meeting was more symbolic to enhance the credibility of the ﬁnal outcome. By the end of 1969, the second phase was completed and obtained ﬁnal approval.111 The planning team also made one presentation to the Shah. But this time Gruen did not attend the meeting as he had already retired from Victor Gruen Associates.112 This time Iranian planners, Farmanfarmaian and Ghaﬀari, were in charge of presenting the plan to the Shah.113 The approval of the second phase came at the end of the one million dollar contract and in turn the joint venture.114 Farmanfarmaian hired some of the employees and Ghaﬀari returned to Victor Gruen Associates, and in 1971 he was appointed as Vice President in charge of the Planning Department.115
THE 1970s ECONOMIC ATMOSPHERE AND THE FATE OF THE ﬁRST TEHRAN MASTER PLAN
Following sudden economic changes in the early 1970s, the Plan Organization increased the budget allocated to Tehran’s development projects and intensiﬁed eﬀorts to implement various parts of the TMP.116 Until the early 1970s, the implementation of the TMP was largely conﬁned to the construction of highway networks.117 The 1973 oil crisis brought about an unprecedented economic boom to Iran: the country’s oil revenues quadrupled in just a few months.
In order to guarantee the development and realization of large-scale urban projects by local architects and planners, this time the Plan Organization obliged Iranian ﬁrms to form joint ventures together instead of collaborating with foreign ﬁrms.118 It was at this time that Farmanfarmaian’s ﬁrm (AFFA) joined with Reza Majd’s oﬃce and therefore grew in size.119 AFFA became one of the biggest and busiest architectural companies in the country.120 It had almost 400 Iranian and foreign employees; approximately 150 of them were located in the Athens branch in Greece working on the International Airport project in south Tehran.121 In 1975, the AFFA was commissioned to envision detailed plans for the implementation of two new satellite towns that were integral parts of the TMP: Kan satellite town, located in northwest Tehran with a population of 283,000, was planned to accommodate government employees of high and medium income.122 Lavizan satellite town, in northeast Tehran with a population of 266,000, was designed for low-and medium-income government workers.123 […]
To elaborate the plan for Tehran new satellite towns, Farmanfarmaian invited Fereydoon Ghaﬀari, the former director of the TMP, to join the oﬃce and to establish a Planning Department leading the development of the projects.125 Ghaﬀari eagerly accepted the position and left Gruen Associates. This was a good time for him to make such a move. In the mid-1970s, Gruen Associates was feeling the eﬀects of global economic crisis. While the 1973 oil crisis brought economic growth to Iran, many developed countries worldwide experienced economic downturns, particularly the United States. The U.S. federal government decided to cut oﬀ loans to developers of new towns and new community projects.126 As a result, many urban projects in the United States were halted, which had dramatic eﬀects on American architectural and planning ﬁrms.
To establish the Planning Department in the AFFA, Ghaﬀari tapped the local planners and invited Iranian planners Fereydoon Rassouli and Fereshteh Bekhrad, who were among the planners involved in the TMP. Soon after its foundation, the AFFA’s Planning Department included a staﬀ of 20; most were Iranian architects and planners and there were a few Americans.127 As in the TMP, the basic units of neighbourhood and community provided the main structural order for all developments within Lavizan and Kan; a combination of transportation facilities, a mass transit system and a freeway network would link them to the rest of the city.128 All communities were clustered around a regional centre, comprising commercial and recreational facilities, oﬃce buildings and high-rise apartments.129
In the late 1970s, the changing social and economic condition in the capital led to a more pessimistic view on the role of modern planning in general and the eﬃciency of the TMP in particular. Critics contended that modern planning in Tehran failed to achieve the wholesale modernization and development of the city that it had enthusiastically claimed since the approval of the TMP in 1969.
There was a growing concern about unjust spatial development at the scale of the capital. When the Tehran Municipality began to take possession of lands for the construction of the new satellite towns of Kan and Lavizan, these districts were already occupied by squatters.130 As there was no plan to relocate those who would become homeless, the land preparation procedure provoked serious conﬂicts between the oﬃcials and those people. In Lavizan’s district there was a shantytown called Shemiran Nu with a population of nearly 60,000 poor and low-income people. In 1978 Tehran’s mayor, Gholamreza Nikpey, ordered its demolition. According to Rassouli, the planning head of the Lavizan project, people resisted the oﬃcials who tried to demolish their homes and set ﬁre to Meidan Jaleh, a nearby square. The Shah’s army intervened and responded by shooting at 20,000 protesters in Jaleh square; 400–900 people were killed and nearly 4000 were wounded.131 This ‘sea of blood between the Shah and the people’ led to further protests against the Shah’s top-down modernization project and the realization of the TMP.132 Directed by ulema and bazaaries who also struggled with their own marginalization in the society, these massive protests stimulated the sparks of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.133
The late 1970s economic downturn also challenged the further realization of the TMP.134 At the time of realization of Kan and Lavizan, other large-scale urban projects in Tehran including Shahestan new centre, the new international airport, and the high-cost system of metro and expressways competed for ﬁnancial resources.135 These projects magnetically attracted developers and strived for space, construction labours, and customers, and therefore left signiﬁcant physical, economic and social impacts on Tehran.136 As manufacturing grew to be the most important industrial sector in the capital, the general wage index of construction workers increased threefold.137 Despite directing a considerable proportion of oil income towards manufacturing, Iran’s economy lost its earlier dynamism and faced severe stagnation.138 This aﬀected the realization of large-scale urban projects in the capital and resulted in the halt of the ongoing projects. In that time, Tehran was littered with unﬁnished urban projects.
Preventing undesirable development appeared the chief weakness of modern planning and gave rise to scepticism towards the future of master planning in Iran.139 In this regard, the New York Times wrote:
With Iran’s oil boom slowing, planners and intellectuals in Tehran are voicing scepticism about the wisdom of further splurging on such urban embellishments as skyscrapers, a subway system and sewers. […] In both public and private, more and more complaints are being heard here about what is described as unlimited and ill-planned growth. These objections contrast with the planning rhetoric heard near the start of the boom in 1973, and they are paralleled by complaints elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region.140
In the late 1970s, the best-selling Iranian architectural magazine Art and Architecture, which in 1973 was published fully in English for the ﬁrst time to herald optimism towards the Iranian modern planning regime, signalled scepticism to the future of modern planning in Iran. Moreover, the transnational culture of modern planning practices in Iran ‘became a subject to great resistance from indigenous professionals’; their claim was that the intervention of foreigners limited the local capacity to intervene.141 In 1977, a critical article under the alarmist title ‘Is There any Future for Town Planning in Iran?’ was published in the magazine. The author Azar Faridi, the British-trained Iranian architect and planner, maintained that ‘town planning in Iran if continued in the present fashion may not achieve signiﬁcant success in the future’.142 She highlighted the re-assessment of the plan making in conjunction with the planning implementation in Iran. More speciﬁcally, Faridi criticized the internationalization of planning practices in Iran and asserted that in spite of the fact that ‘Iran could take advantage of the lesson learned by European and American governments in changing and re-organizing their administrative and planning procedures’, their planning philosophy and system needed to be contextualized.143 She stressed that the employment of foreign planners ‘would prove of little beneﬁt to the nation’ as their cultural and language diﬀerences would hinder a thorough collaboration with local actors.144