Reimagining Lalehzar Street: A Tomorrow, far from Dilapidated

By Sara Khorshidifard.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 23, 2017 $US5.00

Abandoned buildings are premium assets for reclamation, innovation, and urban growth. Such opportunities exist in Tehran’s oldest downtown corridor of Lalehzar. Lalehzar was Tehran’s first modern street in the early twentieth century. Toward the middle of the century, Lalehzar became the country’s hub for cinema and theatre goers. This important street today is a dilapidated shopping district that contains Iran’s main retail corridor for electrical appliances. Lalehzar’s decline is mostly a result of its close-down as an entertainment ward between the 1950s and 1970s. The street currently houses numerous rundown, boarded-up, and empty buildings. The jewels of Lalehzar’s buildings are roughly seventeen soulless, disused cinema and theatre halls left from the early twentieth century. This article offers speculative ideas on how these residual architectures can be reclaimed for new purposes. The aim is not a master plan or a set of design guidelines but to keep an open discourse about ways to revitalize this street. The article offers a vision of a multi-layered corridor to be inhabited by Tehran’s autonomous communities of mostly artists and entrepreneurs. A multidisciplinary method is applied. Fieldwork observations were conducted in Lalehzar at three different times in 2011, 2013, and 2016, and interpretive-historical analysis is espousing cinematic theories and techniques. The street and its sidewalk experiences are compared to narrative spaces in film. Adopting the notion of narrative space as an aspect of design can instill higher imagination in the process of design thinking. Concluding sections offer a vision towards reinventing Lalehzar as Tehran’s new cultural center and the city’s vibrant live-work-socializing habitat of creative art and entrepreneurial communities. Revitalization of this historic, dilapidated downtown corridor seems essential to reestablish better connectivity in the larger scheme of the city.

Keywords: Tehran, Lalehzar, Adaptive Reuse, Narrative Space, Urban Revitalization

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.49-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 23, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.989MB)).

Sara Khorshidifard

Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture and Environmental Design, College of Technology, Architecture, and Applied Engineering, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA