© Sina Zarei

Built on Paper

‘Ideal Architecture’ as a notion represented in Persian public magazines of architecture from 1991-2005

Although it is not impossible to find evidence of the built environment in Persian historical texts, historical books or essays on Iran did not focus on the specific topic of architecture. In fact, despite great architectural monuments, before the twentieth century, architecture was not a specific matter of discussion in Persian texts and its evidence could only be traced by looking at the built environment or by perusing the texts written in other fields of knowledge. However, with the advent of the first architectural magazines after 1946, several notions such as “architecture,” “urbanism,” and “cities” were gradually introduced as specific topics that could be defined and described in textual sources or ‘on paper’. Hence, Text was introduced as a new media for architectural issues and authors were now able to define the meanings of architectural notions, and to change the way they were perceived by the readers. A significant period in the history of these textual sources are the first decades after the war of 1980-1988, when several titles of public magazines were established under direct or indirect support of Iranian government. From 1991 onwards, these new media shaped a discourse within which the governmentally supported institutions illustrated a new image of architecture in Iran. Therefore, this research aims to understand the socially articulated meaning of architecture as represented in these texts. At the same time, it tries to find the relationship between this meaning and the major demands of the supporting institutions. Finally, the research aims to analyse the ideal architecture of the magazines based on the major social discourses in two periods after the war. To be precise, by considering architecture as a social notion, the research will be able to find the relationship between the represented meaning of architecture and the dominant frameworks of speech in Iranian society. Initially, it is assumed that the discourse of construction (1989-1997) and the discourse of reform (1998-2005) were the most prominent frameworks with significant influences on the content of the architectural public magazines. However, further studies will indicate other influential discourses and clarify the social features of that ideal image of architecture in Iran.

Keywords: architecture, meaning representation, discourse analysis, Iran, magazines, social discourse