Unveiling Iranian courtyard house: the example of Kuy-e Chaharsad-Dastgah (1946–1950)
This article discusses the transformation of the traditional Iranian courtyard house type and neighbourhood structure in the early 20th century Iran, and focuses on the design of public housing in the country’s early years of modernisation, after the second World War. It explores how (urban) legislations by Iranian reformists and modernists, and the compulsory unveiling law implemented between 1936 and 1943 contributed to change the image of urban areas and the everyday life of Iranians, particularly in Tehran. While this article provides a short overview of these transformations, it discusses how Iranian architects, educated in Europe, attempted to reconceptualise the ideal form of living, the courtyard-garden house (Khaneh-Bagh), for large-scale housing production, in the country. This article shows how the transformation of this house type became an instrument of accommodating both change and resistance in terms of local customs and habits, in Kuy-e Chaharsad-Dastgah, built between 1946 and 1950 in Tehran. To illustrate these, the design and development of this experimental housing project is analysed in details. It is also demonstrated how this project was developed based on a “planning document” revised by a group of modernist Iranian architects, who intended to improve the hygiene condition of living environments and to accommodate a large number of low-income civil servants in post-World War II, Tehran. It is argued that dual characteristics of the Iranian courtyard house allowed for both incorporating imported models, and simultaneously resisting universalising tendencies towards homogenisation, in the case of Chaharsad-Dastgah.
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