Investigating the Nature of Urban Space Transformation in Historic Cities of Iran (Case Study: Isfahan)

Document Type : Research Article


1 Assistant Professor of Urban Design, Faculty of Art, Urban planning & Design Department, Tarbiat Modares University(TMU)

2 Master of urban design , Faculty of Art, Urban Planning & Design Department, tarbiat modares university

3 Department of Urbanism and Regional Planning, UPC, Barcelona, Spain.


Problem Statement:A glance at the changes in the quality of urban spaces in our time would indicate the impact of outer forces that create new challenges in managing and improving the quality of urban space. Due to the power of these forces, transformations that once used to occur gradually throughout history are taking place much more quickly. Therefore, understanding the nature of urban transformation will open up new ways of coping with contemporary challenges for urban planners. A look at the existing literature shows that this issue has been treated insufficiently at the scale of urban space. 
Aims:As a result of rapid urban transitions and subsequent fundamental transformations in urban spaces, there is a need for another form of urban space analysis that has received little attention in classical urban space analysis. Historic cities are a suitable context for this kind of analysis.
Methodology:The present study on the one hand analyzes the macro-level transformation of the city of Isfahan as a whole through an interpretive-historical method and, on the other hand, investigates the forces affecting the formation and transformation of new urban spaces in Isfahan through an analytical-descriptive approach and data collection methods such as document analysis, field observation, and interview.
Conclusion:The results indicate that the most important forces of transition of the urban space include political system, government, people, events, technology, environment, and time. Also, analysis of major transformations in the macro-structure of Isfahan indicates that, during the history of the development of Isfahan from the Seljuk era (1037-1194), until the last three decades and despite the negative trends in urban space transformations during the Pahlavi period (1925-1979), the process of transition in the city has mainly focused on the city center. In recent decades, however, the central and historical areas of the city have experienced rapid, temporary, and discrete transitions whereas urban spaces outside the city have been developed, which have contributed to the formation of two opposing forces of urban transformation.


• Azarm, Z., Ranjbar, E. & Marti Casanovas, M. (2017). Urban Design Guideline in Middle Urban Fabric Based on Analyzing Public Space Transformation (Case study: Bid Abad District). Unpublished Master Thesis. Iran: Tarbiat Modares University.
• Azarm, Z., Ghalani, Z. & Ranjbar, E. (2017). Transformation of Public Spaces and Changing Pattern of Mobility in a Historic City. Case Study: Isfahan, Iran. 22nd International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society GeoMultimedia. Vienna, Austria. Available from: (Accessed 9 Nov 2018).
• Bavand Consulting engineering. (2003). Tarh- e Tosee- ye Isfahan- e Tarikhi. (Booklet). Isafahan: Isfahan municipality.
• Cagla, H., & Inam, S. (2008). A Study on the Urban Transformation Project Format Done By the Leadership of the Local Government in Turkey. Integrating the Generations FIG Working Week. Held in Stockholm, Sweden, 14-19 June 2008. Available from: (Accessed 22 Nov 2018).
• Gülersoy, N. Z. & Gürler, E. (2011). Conceptual challenges on urban transformation. ITU A| Z, 8(1): 10-24.
• Madanipour, A. Knierbein, S. & Degros, A. (2013). Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe. New York: Routledge.
• Shafaghi, S. (2002). Goghrafia-ye Esfahan [Geography of Esfahan]. Isfahan: Isfahan University.
• Yang, Y. (2010). Sustainable urban transformation driving forces, indicators and processes. Doctoral dissertation. ETH: Zurich. Available from: (Accessed 22 Nov 2018).