The relationship between human beings and nature in an urban context: Tehran and the natural structures of seven river-valleys: a design and planning case study
This research investigates the relationship between human beings and nature in an urban context through the enhancement and improvement of the existing natural structures of the city. Although, in the past, the city was mostly characterised as a place of ‘non-nature’, nowadays the landscape is acknowledged to be the context from which the city has developed. In this research study, Tehran, its natural structures of seven river-valleys and Tehranian residents have been selected as the case study in order to investigate the human-nature relationship in an urban context. This design-based research studies a process of realising sustainable large-scale strategies and objectives in the design and planning of the river-valleys in Tehran. The applied methodology in this process includes a combination of the review of related literature, direct appraisal, interviews and design practice. The design and planning part of this research focuses on one river-valley in Tehran, Darband, which is thirty-three kilometres in length and traverses both urban and peri-urban areas. The design and planning strategies and objectives bring about a new way of looking at river-valleys as natural urban structures that contribute to the identity of the city and citizens. The research has an interdisciplinary approach integrating the environmental and cultural aspects of sustainability. However, the main focus of this thesis is on cultural aspect. To this end, sustainable largescale design strategies and objectives were devised to be responsive to the present and future needs of Tehranian residents and to the natural structures of Tehran’s river-valleys. It was found to be critical to define the strategies in a way that is compatible with the characteristics and potentials of both the rivervalleys and Tehranian citizens. Furthermore, the influences that establish the relationship between human beings and nature in an Iranian-Tehranian context and background are found to be highly significant. The strategies and objectives are therefore based on the effective aspects of these influences in order to achieve a cultural aspect of sustainability. The cultural aspect in this research refers to three features: the quotidian of Tehranian residents; rituals, cultural customs and traditions associated with specific days; and a ‘disappearing’ history in the Persian culture and context. In a summarised statement, this research investigates how the cultural, historical and environmental aspects of river-valleys in the context of Tehran can be integrated in design and planning strategies that address the needs and potentials of both river-valleys and Tehranian users. This research primarily studies the cultural aspect, and the environmental aspect is studied as an affiliated and interdependent aspect. Furthermore, the process of study revealed that the cultural and historical aspects, and social attitudes have significant levels of overlapping and hence, in this research, the cultural aspect and social attitudes are defined as an integrated whole.
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